“God sells us all things at the price of labor.”
Leonardo da Vinci
Leonardo surely knew a thing or two about the cost of creation. His message is crystal clear: if we want to accomplish something that matters, we’re going to have to work at it diligently and enduringly. As my friend and mentor Rob Gilbert put it on his Success Hotline (973.743.4690): We’re going to have to “invest the time, invest the attention, and invest the passion” if we want to be the “best in the world” at whatever calling we care about. For me, it’s writing.
Rob talked about a strategy that a basketball coach who is considered the best shooter in the world came up with for achieving the highest level of mastery: 1) Learn proper technique, and 2) Practice more than anyone else does.
Simple, but not easy. How many of us are really giving full effort and putting in the practice needed to master our craft? I’m working hard to write dangerously, but I have to admit that there are days when I settle for less than my best and put in less than a full effort. I get distracted. I coddle myself. I procrastinate. I stop working, not when I’m satisfied with what I’ve accomplished, but when my attention begins to drift or I feel tired.
Right now, I seem to be content with a level of performance that is far less demanding than what I know I’m capable of. I’m not sure why. I certainly love the feeling of wrestling with something tough. But lately, I’ve become complacent and stopped pushing forward vigorously with my work. I’m investing a modest level of effort and reaping modest progress. While this may bring me good, it won’t bring me great.
Now, it may just be that I’ve hit a plateau and am coasting until I can put on some speed again. Sometimes that happens. But I think it’s more than that. There’s some wall I need to break through and pushing harder is the only way to do it. Do you know the feeling? And here’s a bigger question for all of us to ponder: Are we willing to pay the price of discipline? Write on.