Anyone reading this has heard the expression, “Practice makes perfect.” I’m a subscriber to this and it’s a firm part of every aspect of my life. I can freely admit that some things come easier to me than perhaps they do for others. Most technology, for example, is easier for me than for my partner. The joke around our house is that all I need to do is walk in the room, breathe on whatever tech was broken, and it’ll just magically work.
The reality is often different. There’s occasionally a time or two when things just magically worked, but most of the time, it’s directly related to my years and years of practice.
The truth is that I’ve spent over two decades practicing these skills and learning from observation. While I may have some natural skill for learning technology, that talent isn’t the same as the wisdom and accumulated knowledge I’ve built up over decades. That’s why when I walk into a room and fix a problem, it seems so easy – I’ve either seen the exact problem before, I’ve seen a similar problem, or I know enough about the underlying technology that I can make a pretty good guess at where the problem would be.
Thus, my position: practice is more important than raw talent. No matter what it is, I’d rather work with the person that put in the time to practice over someone that just happens to be good.
Part of my argument is probably rooted in jealousy. I’ve had to beat my head against the wall for years now to get anywhere with drawing, painting, music, or just anything creative. It’s taken consistent effort, every single day, to get anywhere. Drawing has been the most consistent point of practice as I’ve been sketching nearly every day now for some time – even when I don’t spend a lot of time on it, I spend at least 10 minutes every night before bed sketching.
And you know what I see? Improvements. Consistent improvements over time. The drawings I have now are better than what I had last year and vastly improved over the drawings from years before. The topics I choose to research more in-depth stick with me for longer and I’m apply to apply what I learn easier because I practiced those things every day. Music is the same. I practice every day and I’ve gotten better every day.
So when it comes to practice being more important than raw talent, I think the other part of my argument is this: If you’re putting in the time to practice every day to get better, you’ve got the right attitude. You already know that you’ll have to work hard and put in time to get the results you want. You already know that this is something you want badly enough to put in that time and effort. And, probably, you’re humble enough to accept that you don’t know everything about the subject – that’s why you were practicing.
Practice builds talent – talent that is repeatable and reliable.
That’s it. No advice, just respect. If you’re one of those people out there working hard every day to hone your craft, I respect you for that, and I hope you keep it up!
P.S. Another thing about practicing… Raw talent eventually fades when you don’t put in the time because no one is born with knowledge, you have to work at that.