Increase Your Capability

Success is no accident.  It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do.


This post was inspired by and is dedicated to our dear friend Crystal, who consistently sees the potential in others and works to help them find, develop and share it.
Every day, we listen to, read and enjoy exceptional talent from others.  This experience comes in the form of radio, television, co-workers, family members and friends.  Each talent shared provides a measure of beauty and variety to our lives.  Occasionally we encounter someone sharing something we are familiar or even proficient with, that reaches our soul in a unique and powerful way. Sometimes these feelings are accompanied by a touch of wonder leading to the question: “what if?” or “why can’t I do that?” The simple answer is, you can.

My wife, Andrea, and I recently sat down with our children’s piano teacher, Crystal.  We were facing a minor crisis in that two out of our three children taking lessons wanted to quit.  I will be forever grateful for the wisdom and approach of their teacher as she taught me a powerful lesson.  She explained that each of our children had different reasons for wanting to play or quit, but most importantly, they weren’t putting in the daily work necessary to improve.  So when they attended their lesson they were embarrassed for being unprepared and couldn’t hide the fact that they hadn’t made much progress with their sporadic practicing.  They are all very talented, but were not putting in the necessary work to raise the ceiling of their capability.  She explained how hours and hours of consistent guided practice are what is needed to raise this ceiling; even those with great talent need this practice time to achieve new heights and improve their skills.

As we left our meeting with Crystal that night, I started to consider how this principle applied to almost everything we pursue in our lives.  If I want to become a better blogger, I need to put in the consistent work. If you want to develop your interpersonal skills, you need to put in consistent work.  Whatever we do, if we want to pursue excellence, we need to put in consistent work.  If you want to get that next job promotion, you’ll need to put in the work to learn about you next role and to learn how to do it well.

I’ve learned that it’s not enough to just sit back and let life take us for a ride and expect to learn new skills simply by “going with the flow.” As we work to reach our full potential, we’ll need to make sacrifices, such as devoting more time to practicing new skills, reaching out for help, and making ourselves accountable to someone else.
It’s also not enough to just put in hours and hours of work while staying in our comfort zone. Work that does not challenge us will not help us to grow. This is as true for piano playing as it is for anything else in life.

We need the work to challenge us, push our boundaries and expand our capabilities.  Working with determined focus allows us to most effectively raise our ceiling and reach our full potential. To attain that focus, we often need someone to guide us, challenge us, and hold us accountable.  Someone who is willing and capable of pointing out our blind spots – the areas that need work which we don’t see. This is the role of a piano instructor, classroom teacher, mentor, or coach. 

As we step into 2017, I invite you to consider what goals you want to reach, and what sacrifices you’re willing to make to reach them.  What talents remain undeveloped or unexplored that will help you reach those bucket list goals?
 It might even be something that you already do exceptionally well and just want to do better.  Whether you’re just figuring out your purpose, or you already know it and just want to reach your full potential, it could be extremely beneficial to find a coach or a mentor who will listen, explore and hold you accountable for your commitments and actions.

If you are not sure where to begin, here are some questions to journal about to help you get started:

  1. What are you passionate about?
  2. What do you feel is missing from your life?

Perhaps there is something in these questions that will reveal a talent you can further develop.
I invite you to bring more beauty into the world by raising your ceiling of capability with at least one talent this year.  One of my commitments for 2017 is to put a structure in place to raise my ceiling with speaking, reading and writing Spanish.  Please share in the comments how you plan to increase your capability this year.

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