Time = Intimidation?


    Time seems to intimidate people more than anything these days. People are scared of time. People seem to lack dedication.

    Most people want to have impressive accomplishments. Most people want to be respected for having done great things. Well, great things take time ... and some are easy - you just have to put in the time.

    I was not a naturally-great fighter. At 17, when I first got into armor, I was already 5'11", but I was 115 lbs, skinny, and not very muscled. It took me years to become a knight. But I put in the effort ... and most of the effort was time. Now I am a SCA knight; there is a correlation there.

    Want to be a ballroom dancer? Here's what you must do:

    Step 1: At least once per week, over six months, go to a ballroom dance, stand up, and take the free 1-hour lesson with everybody else.

    There is no Step 2. That's it. Time will do the rest. Want to be a great ballroom dancer? That takes more effort, and some private lessons with a good instructor, but the format is the same.

    I was recently telling a girl about how some martial artists can break open a chilled champagne bottle with their fingertips. She said that it sounded cool, and that she wished that she could do it. I explained that it didn't require a lot of strength. All that you need is a small, tight sandbag, hanging from a cord, and you repeatedly hit it with the tips of your fingers ... for 20 minutes ... everyday ... for 10 years. She was horrified, but I tried to explain to her that many martial artists do things like this to learn to break bottles, boards, and even bricks. To her, it was unfathomable.

    Bill Bixby (the Hulk, Eddie's father) was a talented magician. Several of his most-impressive tricks were not magic at all ... just a learned skill practised every day for 5 years, 10 minutes per day, every day. How could you not get good at something if you practised it that often?

    Truly understanding some of Einstein's theories does not come from reading a book or watching a documentary; you need to do those, but you also have to think deeply, like Einstein did, to grasp these concepts fully. Most people can do it; all that it takes is good resources, some effort, and time.

    Writing books is done one page at a time. Several times each week, someone tells me that they want to write a book, but most will never get past page 1.

    For book-writing: I suspect that part of their problem is perfectionism. People want what they do to be perfect each step of the way. They want page 1 of their novel to be perfect before they move onto page 2. They want to overcome all of the common mistakes without having to make them. For fighting: they want to go straight to the bruising without ever getting a bruise.

    Well, nothing works that way.

    In writing, you first get it written, entirely, and then you get it right ... or you spend your whole lifetime perfecting your page 1 and never get any farther; that's not writing. In dancing, you start off as stiff as Frankenstein's Monster (everyone does), and you end up amazing people at your sister's wedding reception (after 6 months, you will impress anyone who is not a dancer!). In oil painting, you draw your sketch, and then you completely paint over it; what the sketch looks like no longer matters. In fighting, you have to get a lot of bruises before you get to give a lot of bruises ... and pain will be your best teacher.

    You can be anything that you want to be. The only thing is: you must put in the time to accomplish it.

    My secret is no secret: I never write at home. At home, I can goof off, watch TV, play games, etc... The only way that I get any writing done is that I put myself in a position where I have nothing else to do. I go to the local shopping mall, or a restaurant, and turn off my WIFI; I have nothing to do there but write. At a dance, there's nothing to do but sit and talk or dance ... and the women are kinda insistent on the men dancing. To learn to fight, you go where the fighter's go and get in armor. If you don't have armor, you can borrow some until you can afford it; there's usually an old helm kicking around in each SCA branch.

    But in all of these, you must make the time to do it.

    After the car accident that put me out of fighting, when the doctors told me that I would never walk very well ever again, I knew that was unsatisfactory. To rebuild my spine, I needed to go for long walks every day ... but I also knew that I wouldn't (because it hurt!). Solution: I got a 95 lb. 6-month old German Shepard - that dog needed a long walk every day. Yes, at first it hurt, but I had put myself into a situation where I had to do something (something that I needed to do), and so I did it.

    The most common problem that I hear is reading time; many want to be well-read, but the time to read a book is daunting. That's because reading time needs to be planned like any other activity, and you don't become well-read in one sitting. Well, any book by your nightstand, or in your bathroom, can be finished off off in a few weeks. You can even read while you eat lunch at work. But you must make the situation happen: you need a quiet space ... and you must carry your book with you. Even if you only read a few pages each day, you will polish off most books in 2 months.

    A little bit of effort, just a few hours each week, can make you a world-class expert almost in anything in just a few years. But it won't happen instantly. In today's modern world, people want 'magical' results. TV ads promise that you can lose unwanted pounds in minutes without exercise; they lie. You can't push a button and become an expert at anything.

    But you could become an expert at anything ... if you put in the time.

    The trick is to not be afraid to start.

(What did you think of this blog? Please leave a comment.)


From Dan G.

    Hi Jay,

    Great blog post! I've also heard that reading ten books on a subject will make you an expert on that subject.

    I will focus on doing a little bit each day towards what I want to become an expert in next.

    Currently reading the second book in The Vikings! trilogy.


From Jay Palmer.

    Thanks, Dan! Appreciate your comments! Hope you like Book 2!


From Alyne.

    This is so true, Jay. It needs to be said all the time: we Indie authors are constantly being advised to publish a new novel every 4 months, then every 3 months. I recently heard every 2 months. After going through the stress of overwhelm, I decided I did not want to be the kind of author which sacrifices quality to compete in the "game". It takes as long as it takes. The readers deserve good books and we deserve to respect our work enough to fulfil its true potential.

From Jay Palmer.

    I so agree! Quality does not happen on an assembly line!


From Dave D.

    If you're lucky you find something you like enough that putting in the time each day comes naturally. Playing guitar worked that way: I liked playing so I made time to practice.

    Another way you can be lucky is in finding something you like to do that is well rewarded - like programming. Getting paid well makes it somewhat easier to spend time doing it day after day.

    Doing it "on spec" - with no guarantee of a payoff - speaks to being driven to create, which is not a bad problem to have, in my opinion.

From Jay Palmer.

    I always said: If you have a calling, at least you know why you're here.