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Be the Tortoise, Not the Hare


That is the number of hours it is said to take to master a skill, whether it be learning French or playing tennis.

Two weeks ago, Adele won five Grammy Awards (and 15 overall). Do you think that just happened on its own? Before all the awards, before being played all over the air, before being known by just her first name, she was Adele Laurie Blue Adkins, just another English girl who had a good voice. Of course, she needed a platform (MySpace, back when it was actually popular) to get discovered. But what good would that have been if she didn’t have any substance to back it up?

Greatness is simple (but not easy) to achieve

We previously talked about the importance of being great at something than okay at everything. Here we will demonstrate how simple (though not easy) it is to develop excellence.

Think about some ordinary but routine things you engage in. It could be surfing the Internet, watching Netflix, or having a coffee in the morning. Now look at the following graphic:

You are not too busy to master a skill; comparison

Slow and steady wins the race

Broken into such manageable portions, does dedicating time to improve yourself still seem like a tall task? Once you reach just the halfway point, you probably would already be quite good. Wouldn’t that already be an accomplishment? Notice the importance of the long time periods, which make small daily dosages really add up. It is the same reason why basic personal finance courses (disclaimer: we don’t necessarily agree with all of their advice but won’t get into it here) always tell you to start saving early and often, even in small amounts, due to the power of compound interest.

On top of the inherent benefits to yourself as a person, both the result (e.g. you now speak fluent French and use it to help newly-arrived French immigrants transition to life in the US) and process of attaining that (e.g. every night for multiple years you read the news and watched TV series in French) will improve your college application. That consistency and long-term commitment stand out and impress college admissions officers (and employers).

Motivation throughout this long, steady climb

Now that we’ve eliminated being “too busy” as an obstacle, how do you push yourself to execute this on a daily basis? It has to be something you truly care about. The motivation has to come from within. Or else you won’t be able to keep this up. Steady, gradual improvements lead to big results.

One step at a time. Left foot forward, right foot forward. Repeat.

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