Feeling Valuable when You Feel One Tenth of Brilliant

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Have you ever felt like you just weren’t accomplishing all you wanted to? (Hint: It’s a trick question to weed out the robots. If you answered yes, human, keep reading)

An Expert?
For a few years now I’ve been playing guitar. I started late in life, but I still enjoy it.

It takes time, and I make sure to average 30 minutes a day. Last year my total number of hours clocked in at 1,000 hours. I was thrilled.


According to Malcolm Gladwell in his book Outliers, the experts are the ones who put 10,000 hours into their craft. When I hit 1,000 hours I knew I made it to one tenth of what brilliant people make it to. And when I heard myself play, that’s exactly how I felt: one tenth of brilliant.

Retrying Past Holdouts
I enjoy playing guitar. It makes me feel proud to have that skill and to be able to play some of the songs that I listened to when I was in high school. Still, I don’t feel like I’m very good. It’s not like I would rock a stage and people would swoon.

At the same time there are songs that I’ve played time and time again in the past and I hadn’t played them very cleanly at all. Then I come back to them a year later, and I notice a definite improvement. Sometimes I come back and master one that I was stuck on and other times I come around and see a marked improvement even if it’s not completely clean.

It’s not just songs either. There are different financial goals, speaking goals, writing goals, and others that I can look at and say “I didn’t have that under my belt last year, but I do now.” There is something about seeing improvement where there was a lack before.

A lot of it is Perspective
If you struggle with feeling in a rut and you want to feel like you are accomplishing something, go back to what you were doing a year ago. When we do something everyday, the changes are too gradual to notice any difference. Just like our hair, we don’t notice it growing day by day, but every few weeks, we need to get it cut.

The best way to notice the difference is to make a note of it. Once a week, write down the big things you accomplished that week. At the end of the month, review that list and take the big things and note them for the month. At the end of the year, review that list and take note of the big things you accomplished over the year. Then each year review the list and see what you have made happen.

Day by day you may not notice much of a difference, but year by year you will be thrilled to know the positive change you have made in your life. Make time this weekend to start seeing what you’ve made happen this week. A few minutes of back patting once a week can make for a huge ego boost in the future.

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About the author

David is a father, speaker, blogger (obviously), and author of How to Create Amazing Presentations sharing the tools, tips, and techniques of the experts to make you an amazing presenter, 7 Steps to Better Relationships built on the stories and lessons on this blog with seven easy steps to help you maximize your interactions with the people you care about most, and The Man in the Pit to help you care for loved ones struggling with depression.

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