As you get older and likely attend elite private schools, you will hear a lot about being “well-rounded.” People will say it will be important to try this and that; to do many things. Have extra-carricular activities.
I think well-rounded is important in some ways.
But borderline obsession can work too, in the right situation. Charles Bukowski has a quote, “Find something you love and let it kill you.” What I’m saying is: equally important as being well-rounded is eventually finding what you love and giving yourself to it.
This doesn’t mean one thing for all of your life. None of us are prescient enough to see an entire lifetime. And this world is changing so rapidly that something that seems a guaranteed part of everyday life may be gone just a decade later. But finding something you love and letting that passion take over is a gift of this world.
Spending time in the thing is what’s crucial. Getting to know the thing. (It may not be a thing at all. It might be a mere idea.)
Malcolm Gladwell makes a point that it takes 10,000 hours to master something. That’s a lot of hours. It’s 5 hours a day for 2000 days. That’s more than 5 years. And in that time, it’s important to focus on not just the part of your focus which you do well, but also on the part you do not do well. It’s worth the fight. It’s delayed glory.
I want you to read Ray Allen’s piece: Letter to My Younger Self. Don’t focus on my words, focus on Ray’s message.
Don’t regret. Put in the work so you don’t regret. Give yourself to it. Regret sucks. I don’t have many regrets, but I’ve seen it eat people around me alive.
You have to work so hard to be good at something. You have to work beyond hard to be great. That’s why passion is important. The less it’s dull work, and the more it’s YOUR WORK, the better off you will be.
The real world will humble you, there’s no doubt about that. Your humbling is, in essence, the world around you’s job. Sometimes it comes in the form of knocking you off your pedestal or showing you how much you don’t know. More often, it comes in subtler ways. Being in a boat with only water as far as the eye can see in all directions. That humbles me. The view from 35,000 feet in the pitch black when you see the lights of two different cities. That humbles me. Hearing my two little boys tell me they love me or that I’m their best friend. That humbles me.
The world will humble you. Hopefully, over time, you can learn to let it humble you gracefully.
Ray Allen, in his piece, will also tell you that he has been afraid. He’ll tell you that standing on the big stage can be hard. I can echo these sentiments. It took me a long time before I didn’t want to run. In sixth grade, I forgot my lines at the McD oratory contest. I cried and cried. I didn’t want to go back. In eighth grade I won. Not because I’m gifted. Because I put in work and overcame my fear.
Showing up everyday is what life is about. “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not a singular act, but a habit.” A Will Durant quote that I say everyday. Those who are great have it in common – Habits. Ray Allen talks about it as do numerous others.
What will all of this produce? The showing up. The getting humbled. The putting in work. The grind. The obsession. What kind of person will you be?
Ray Allen talks about being alone and sacrifice and putting the work before other things. Then he asks the question: Is it worth it? He tells his younger self that only you can answer that for you.
I love you guys!