I love mountains and someday I want to visit the Rocky Mountains. I was planning a theoretical road trip from my house to the Rockies and here is what I found: There is absolutely no way to get there that doesn’t include a full day of driving through nothing. (No offense if you live in Kansas, central Illinois isn’t anyone’s idea of exciting either.) There is no getting to the exciting mountain without knuckling under and pushing through the long plateau.
I’ve been slowly working through a ukulele course by the great James Hill and last night I was presented with what seems like a very easy song, a simple call and response tune called “Take This Hammer”. But as many times as I tried, I just couldn’t do it right.
You see, the song requires a half-beat switch between an F chord and a B flat chord. The B flat chord on the uke is a bar chord, which I’ve been kind of cheating at. The only way I’m going forward here is if I spend a lot of time getting this one tricky chord right; which will probably require practicing one boring chord for hours.
I’ve been thinking a lot this week about what it takes to be good at something, anything, and what I’ve realized is the only way to become above average is to slog through the kind of boring stuff that throws everybody else off. You have to dig in with some deliberate practice, prepare for some boring, and just keep driving through the plateau.
In a day when Facebook, Youtube, Netflix and a billion other diversions are a mere click away, most of us (myself included) have no capacity for boredom but it’s boredom that enables us to excel.