“The signature of mediocrity is chronic inconsistency.”
– Jim Collins
Earlier this week I met Amy Cuddy. If you’re not familiar, she has a signature expression in her talk: “fake it until you become it.” Moving the discussion beyond “fake it ’til you make it”, she means to convey that whenever we try something new, attempt a new skill, or otherwise leap into the unknown in an act of bravery, there is always a part of us that feels like an impostor. Because it’s not about just “making it”, it’s about showing up, consistently, until we fully inhabit – fully become – the new persona we envision ourselves to be.
When we join a new sport, begin playing a musical instrument, pick up yoga, or take on a new job, there is always that little voice of doubt in our mind that says, “You don’t belong here. You don’t know what you’re doing. They’re going to find out you’re a charlatan.” Amy says she spent years of her life feeling like this as she constantly took on new challenges and slowly recovered from a debilitating injury.
I once had a conversation with Vince Poscente, who at age 26 decided he wanted to be an Olympic skier. Just like that. While at the time a fairly middling recreational skier, Vince dedicated four years of constant training, crashes and injuries, to make the Olympic team and compete in the 1992 Olympics in Albertville, France. He didn’t win, but he showed up, every day and locked into his skis to train.
It’s marvelous to watch kids attempt new things naturally, unselfconsciously. Kids will regularly cast themselves into the unknown of new sports, or art, or other acts of joyous bravery. If we bring forth what is within us, with consistency, and sometimes a touch of bravery, we can slowly and surely develop new skills. And over time, hone those skills into real expertise.