At some point, we are all beginners. It’s funny how quickly we forget this, ignore it, or maybe we just hope that we will somehow be the exception to the rule (Gladwell says it’s 10,000 hours). We think we “should” be good at something because HELLO UNIVERSE…I HAVE EXERCISED FOR ONE WHOLE WEEK WHY DON’T I LOOK LIKE JENNIFER ANISTON?!?
Just me? Sorry.
We are all so prone to the desire to avoid being a beginner. I used to teach art in elementary schools and I can tell you, that ages from 5-8 (maybe 9), the kids loved art just for the sake of creating. For the simple joy of feeling the materials in their hands. To watch the colors they were putting down on the paper, or to experience the cold clay in their hands as they shaped it into whatever our project was.
But by age 10, something else slides in next to them at the table. Their joy is now giving way to comparison. Sometimes with their neighbor at their table, maybe a piece from another student hanging up, and worst of all, me…their teacher. I would try to tell them every single time that I had WAAAAYYYY more practice than they had. Sometimes that would work, often not. That is an age when we lose a LOT of artists.
For those of us who battle through those trenches, you’d think we would be better at keeping our eyes forward at all times, to not look left and right. To not compare ourselves to the neighbors at our “tables”. But we don’t. And because of that, we can get dejected pretty quickly. Which is where the magic word comes in. Seriously.
Say you want to become a world class athlete or just run in a local 5k, but you don’t run…Or say you want to learn to paint with oil paints, but the last creative thing you did, was drawing the stick man during a fiery game of hangman with your kids…Or maybe you want to dance, sing, cook…you get the picture. We are all so quick to say “I can’t”, and that self talk will stop you in your tracks. But what if we added a small magic word to the end of our sentences?
I can’t run a 5k…YET.
I don’t know how to use oil paints…YET.
I can’t sing…YET.
I can’t cook…YET.
I can’t dance…YET (sorry folks, this actually may not work for dancing…if you know me, you know that it is actually not something I am capable of learning. Think Elaine from Seinfeld, and double it).
There is an amazing quote by Ira Glass about being a beginner. He calls it “the gap”. It’s the gap between where we are and where we want to be. I think it dovetails nicely with YET. I hope you take a minute (actually two) to watch this video from his interview. It gives me a lot of inspiration. Also, I would love to know if you try adding the magic word to your self-talk. Let me know in the comments if you do!