You get good at what you do

You work at an ice cream shop and scoop ice cream cones by the hundreds? You’re gonna get good at it. You’ll get a feel for the scoop and how it grabs the ice cream. You’ll get a feel for how big you need to make the scoops depending on what you’re doing with them. You’ll get to the point where you do it as fast as it should be done. It’s a small art.

I’m sitting in a coffee shop right now and it’s clear these baristas got good by making coffee drinks.

Heck, even if you watch TV all day, you’ll get good at it. You’ll know what’s on when. You’ll know when to surf and when not to. You’ll know to extract as much satisfaction out of that TV as is damn well possible while you stare at it.

It helps if there are stakes though. Say you throw darts at a dartboard three hours a day. You’ll probably get better, but you won’t get as good as you would if you were competing against people during those three hours trying to beat them.

Forgive the crassness, but I have an uncle who once said he’s been peeing several times a day for his whole life. He could pee into a bottle 5 feet away and not spill a drop. It almost stands to reason, doesn’t it? Us male-parts-havers should be pretty damn excellent at aiming we’ve been doing it for so long. But of course, we aren’t, as we’re told by cute little signs in public bathrooms. We don’t get better because the stakes are low and, frankly, the controls just aren’t there.

I’m fond of music analogies as well, as someone who’s essentially been a life-long student of playing stringed instruments. I’m not amazing, but I have some skill I’ve hard-won. It came from doing it, a lot, and from a lot of angles. An instrument in hand, practicing or playing with people. But also some level of immersion in it. Listening to and loving the music of people playing in the style I’m practicing. You don’t get to say hey it’d be neat to play to banjo, buy one, and practice your way to proficiency alone. If you don’t actively listen to music with prominent banjo, you’re doomed.

Email, too, of course. You’ll get better at it by reading and writing a lot of it. Especially if you care about keeping yourself up to date and communicating strongly.

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