Category: Excellence

Learning a New Skill

I’m currently learning a new skill, specifically practicing the piano.


For a long time, I’ve wished I had a musical skill, I just haven’t really pursued it before. This is my efforts to become a full-fledged renaissance man. Wikipedia states:

“When someone is called a ‘Renaissance man’ today, it is meant that, rather than simply having broad interests or superficial knowledge in several fields, the individual possesses a more profound knowledge and a proficiency, or even an expertise, in at least some of those fields. Some dictionaries use the term “Renaissance man” to describe someone with many interests or talents, while others give a meaning restricted to the Renaissance and more closely related to Renaissance ideals.”

As far as I’m concerned, some musical skill is necessary to achieve that ideal. After all, Leonardo da Vinci, the prototypical polymath, did have musical skill.

Besides I know myself, and I know that my auditory sense, and all that pertains to that, is the weakest of my senses. Learning music would be a helpful correction.

Recently, my grandparents-in-law offered me their old stand-up piano and I took them up on their offer. I’m not sure what the reason, but I felt that the piano was a suitable musical instrument for me.

Just a couple of weeks ago, the piano mover’s brought it over to my new home. The next day I got started.

As I did in working towards an artistic skill (specifically drawing), I went to the great teacher of today…Youtube.

Valhalla Drawing
My favorite drawing of one of my cats, Valhalla, after a couple months of practice.

I typed in something along the lines of “beginner’s piano lessons” and found what looked like a good starting place.

But then advertising got me! The pre-roll ad on this video, was an ad for an online piano course on Udemy.

I clicked over and liked what I saw. I shelled out the $29 for the 10-hour video course. After all, it had 4.7 stars with 9418 ratings, so the proof, in addition to the offer, was strong.

(I’ll keep in mind the targeting to the offer, as I plan to start doing Youtube advertising for my businesses soon!)

Although Youtube is a great place to start, there are downsides. Learning from my experience in drawing, Youtube got me going, but it wasn’t very structured. Some channels had a few tutorials in a series, but nothing was very long, nor detailed. I think part of what may have led me to ceasing practicing drawing as much was the lack of structure.

Now, as of writing this, I’m 38 lessons into the course…of 362.

And I’m having a great time. I’m not good by any stretch of the imagination, but I can play a few simple songs. The other night I played a simple tune while my nieces danced around to it.

We’re often told about the 10,000 hour rule. If you want to become an expert in something it takes 10 years or 10,000 hours of practice to do so. But this is expert level. Even world-class in many fields.

What most people aren’t aware of is the 10 hour rule. 

To get okay at something it takes about 10 hours.

There is a huge difference in those numbers. Think about it this way. Most people across the world have never played the piano. They’ve just never tried. So with just a tiny bit of practice, you would be capable of doing more than those that have never done any.

Actually I don’t even know if I’ve totaled 10 hours of practice yet! Probably close to that number. But I’ve already been playing for others.

I wrote about this in my book, Practicing Strength and Movement. Although that is about applying the skills of practice to strength and movement as the title says, so much of that material applies to any skill in general.

If you practice at practicing things, you can gain any skill much faster. That’s why I talk about practicing as a meta-skill. It can be applied to any individual thing you desire.

Habits are another meta-skill worth cultivating that I’ve written about before. (And have a draft of habits book sitting on my desktop too. Need to finish that up.)

What’s more is as I’m progressing, because the skill is being built quickly as with every lesson I learn something new, I’m having lots of fun.

I appreciate how quickly I can start to get into the flow of playing some simple chords and rhythms.

When I first started, I was writing it on my to-do list as something I wanted to get done. Now, I’ve quickly developed the habit. Further, because I enjoy it, it doesn’t take any motivation to do so. I’m finding myself playing a few times throughout the day, and the amount of time I practice increasing. It probably won’t be long til I’ve logged my first 100 hours of practice.

Maybe at that point, I’ll share some of my playing with you.

So many people get trapped into the thinking of “talent” or “old dogs can’t learn new tricks.” These are both damning mindsets that will keep you from experiencing new things or ever accomplishing anything worthwhile.

What new skill would you like to learn?

The Secret to Winning

“The secret to winning the game is staying in the game long enough to win the game.”
-Dr. Glenn Livingston

I came across this quote somewhere the other day, and liked it so much I had to write it down.

I liked it so much because it is so true.

With life, and achieving anything in it, you need to take a long term perspective. A year…years…a decade…multiple decades.

Something I’ve heard, and know to be true from personal experience, is that humans tend to overestimate what they can accomplish in a year, but underestimate what they can do in three years. 

(A lot of people tend to set yearly goals, but how many set three year goals? I wonder if that has anything to do with it.)

The fact is that most people quit too early. And in some cases too early may be after three or five years!

I’ve seen this happen in my fitness life. I was weak starting out. It pissed me off to see people that didn’t workout able to do things I had to bust my ass for six months to accomplish. But I continued working out. They didn’t.

I look back ten years and I’m amazed at all I’ve done. Holy shit! I am actually quite strong and do some amazing things. When did that happen? There was no magical flip of the switch, just consistency over a long time frame. 

I have made just about every mistake you could possibly make when it comes to business. I cringe to think about some of what occurred in my early days…or even just last year. But the one mistake I did not make, the one that made all the difference, was that I kept going.

I’ve stayed in the business game almost a decade now, and it’s really starting to pay off. 

It’s kind of aggravating thinking “Why did it take so long?” Well, I had a whole lot to learn over that time.

As long as you keep going, and you learn along the way, in the end you will be successful.

As coaching legend Vince Lombardi once stated after a loss, “We didn’t lose the game; we just ran out of time.”

In sports you have a finite time to win. While the time may vary, that’s part of the rules in pretty much every single sport there is.

In life, there is also a time limit…but this is far, far, far longer than any sport.

The more you can wrap your head around being persistent, being patient, and thinking for the long-term, the better off you’ll be no matter the endeavor.