Hollywood and New Skills

It’s been about 4 months since I started my new business, and about 4 weeks since I quit my job to pursue my business full-time.

At first there were a lot of tears, fears, and uncertainty. It’s pretty overwhelming to not know where the rent is going to come from. I wasn’t very good at sales, but I had to sell if I wanted to eat, so I had to get up each day and try again.

Fast-forward 4 weeks

There are still a lot of tears, fears, and uncertainty. I still have to sell if I want to eat, and I’m still not very good at it. The doubt and overwhelming pressure still make me cry at least once a day.

See, in Hollywood, there’s a lot of doubt leading up to The Big Decision. But once you’ve decided, then actually implementing the decision takes only as long as one inspirational pop song. You try, and you try, and you get better, and better, and soon you’re ready for the Final Showdown.

It’s harder to live through it

We all know that that’s a technique Hollywood uses to compress the boring parts. But in your real life, alas, you don’t get to do that. Acquiring skills is more like the “Toepick” scene in The Cutting Edge: you’re going to fall down many times, people will laugh at you, and it doesn’t seem to make any difference at all.

I promise you are getting better. But I promise that it won’t feel like it for a while.

Resources for Further Reading
Mastery and the Average Factory Worker (PG 13: language).

  • When I was 18 I went on study abroad to Germany. When I landed, I didn’t speak more than a few words of the language (literally), and felt way out of my depth.

    About three months in, I knew enough of the language to be frustrated by how much I didn’t know, and I wished, more fervently than I can express in words, that I could just montage my way through the next few months, until I reached a point where I was actually something close to fluent.

    I could see it all play out in my head, how I would bumble, but I would try and try and the viewer could see me getting better with every scene.

    But, as you say, Amanda, real life doesn’t work like that. I had to live through every single painful, excruciating moment of learning to speak another language from scratch. There were days when it good and I felt like I was making progress, and there were days when it was awful and I thought I’d never be able to figure out how to express the thoughts in my head.

    But, at the end of my ten months in Germany, I was fluent. I could even tell jokes that were funny because of my play on words, and not because I completely screwed up the language. In the end, I was glad I didn’t get my montage, because the struggles I went through made me a stronger person, and that wouldn’t have happened if I’d been allowed to skip over them.

    • apingel

      Great story, and a great example!

      Part of the problem is that in retrospect, you look back and think “gosh, in only 10 short months, I learned the whole language!”. Your brain montages your memories, which makes the current experience of new skills even more painful.