Since I watched the new Netflix series Queen’s Gambit, I was inspired to learn how to play chess. The excitement of figuring out the geometry and patterns behind such a rich game comes with ease. Paradoxically, the feeling of being crushed comes as frequently every time I lose due to my foolish mistakes. Nonetheless, I comprehend that I am learning chess because I sincerely want to hack the learning system. Thus, the life-saver for not wanting to quit has been undoubtedly developing the tolerance to be bad at it. Every time I fail to play wisely is an occasion to embrace my lack of talent without shame.
As ironic as it might sound, if one is striving for the path of mastery, you have to learn to tolerate your lack of competence. It is fundamentally correct that to generate a dramatic change of behavior, one requires deciding not to accept the lack of standards on what you can and should expect from you. However, it would be best to use this strategy to approach your training and not judge what is available for you to do at this precise moment.
It should be clear that the gap between who you are and who you aspire to be never will close up. Thus, if the match of being competent is who you desire to be, then you have to embrace and own the imperfection of your current level of skill. You can aspire to improve, but you address that in the practice room on your next practice session, not the day you perform.
Your desire to improve must not come as a result of feeling shame. Otherwise, you will get trapped in a never-ending cycle of dissatisfaction. You have to take the necessary distance to observe that your lack of skill reflects, at its core, a lack of exposure or lack of accurate systems and methods. Such a realization is the antidote to avoid frustration and disappointment. If you have certainty that the progression you are using is the correct one, then it is a matter of time before you improve.
If you are the person who feels displeasure, anger, or sadness every time you showcase your craft because of how evident are your flaw, then you have to develop the tolerance to ship your work, showcases what you are working on without any self-judgment. Some would argue that feeling humiliated can push you to work harder to improve. However, in my own experience, nurturing such a punishment system to improve is not sustainable in the long term.
As coach Christopher Sommer, the founder of GymnasticBodies and former long-time U.S. Junior National Team Coach, said, “What is the rush? Slow down now to faster later. Consistency is what builds champions, not intensity. We can’t all be elite gymnasts, but we should all begin training the basics just like they did when they first started!” If you feel the commitment to your craft is for the long term, you must acknowledge that you will move slow at the beginning and feel no agony about it.
Can you attempt to alleviate that craving for being exceptional right now? There are thousands of elements to improve upon, so it won’t happen overnight, regardless of how hard you try. So stay focus, and remain vigilant to what’s most vital at the stage you are. Showcasing your work is the pathway to unveil what requires the most consideration in the practice room.