We’ve all heard the old adage, “practice makes perfect.”
Some of us have put that notion to good use in our lives. Others, however, are hampered by any number of obstacles. Some of these challenges only exist in our imagination, but some are very real.
Regardless, those who stay true to themselves, maintain forward progress and never lose track of their goals are destined to succeed. It just might take some time.
Overcoming Perceived Age Restrictions
While this may seem shocking, many adults are under the false impression that it’s impossible to pick up a new skill, hobby or recreation beyond a certain age. Although it’s true that the human brain’s natural learning mechanisms are typically at their peak until approximately 20 years of age, research has shown that adults, including the elderly, are still able to learn and retain new concepts over a long-term basis.
Learning how to make yourself good at something is certainly more difficult for adults, but it’s certainly not impossible. George Saunders, who has been hailed by the New York Times as a prolific writer of short stories, didn’t publish his first book until the age of 37. It was only after overcoming a personal inferiority complex, and after sloshing his way through a number of normal jobs, that he was able to devote himself entirely to his writing.
Betty LaVette, an accomplished soul singer, released her very first record in 1962 when she was just 16 years old. While LaVette wouldn’t see mainstream success until decades later, she never gave up hope. From practicing vocals in front of her bedroom mirror to long nights in Detroit jazz clubs, LaVette focused on her goals and constantly worked on her skills. If anyone knows how to make yourself good at something, it’s definitely Betty LaVette.
Conquering a Lack of Knowledge, Accessibility or Experience
A lot of people struggle with the thought of how to make yourself good at something. Often referenced within the nature versus nurture debate, many professionals maintain the stance that a certain amount of natural or raw talent is required to succeed at anything. On the other hand, there are others who insist that motivation, dedication and hard work can make up for a lack of innate skill.
You don’t have to be a best-selling painter or artist in order to draw a picture. Likewise, almost anyone can learn how to strum a few chords on a guitar or play an arranged pattern of notes on a piano. While you might not be able to play at the level of your favorite musicians or paint the next Mona Lisa, these are tangible skills that can be taught, learned and developed over the course of time.
John Hayes, a professor of cognitive psychology with Carnegie Mellon University, has done a great deal of research on the subject. One study, which examined thousands of musical works spanning more than 200 years of world history, wasn’t able to locate one musician who released a popular or hit piece without investing at least a decade in learning and honing their craft. Yes, this even applies to Mozart, too.
Staying Motivated Over the Course of Time
Realistically, practice probably isn’t going to make you perfect at anything. However, if you are struggling with the idea of how to make yourself good at something, or if you are unsure of where to start, establishing a rudimentary practice regimen is a great way to hit the ground running.
For even better and quicker results, immerse yourself in the history, culture and milestones of your chosen craft and try to absorb all the information you can. Not only will this drive your desire to learn even more, but it can also be used as the initial foundation for building a wealth of knowledge.
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