This post is Part 5 in a 5-part blog series on developing excellence. (If you missed the first post, you can find it here.)
In this final blog post, I want to talk about the importance of passion when developing excellence.
DEEP practice is really hard, and to be honest, it isn’t much fun. I think that’s the main reason why most people don’t develop excellence. The price is just too high to pay.
Shizuka Arakawa won the gold medal in figure skating at the 2006 Winter Olympics. During the Olympics, Arakawa completed a flawless performance of moves that most of us would consider impossible. Perfecting those moves required huge quantities of practice, and a lot of falling down on cold, hard, ice. One person estimated her road to the gold medal involved at least 20,000 falls on her butt.
Why would anyone put themselves through that?
You have to have a burning passion for the thing you want to be excellent at. DEEP practice requires immense amounts of time and energy. If you don’t love the thing you’re doing, you will never work hard enough to be great.
Let me share two examples from my own life. A few years ago, I wanted to learn Spanish. I had visited some friends in Mexico, and I was frustrated about my inability to communicate. When I got back to the U.S., I bought a series of Spanish language CDs, and listened to them in my car on my commute to and from work. But to be honest, I wasn’t super passionate about it. I listened to the CDs for a while, but then I got tired of having to concentrate so hard on my drive. I also was frustrated with my lack of progress. So after awhile, I quit my effort to learn Spanish.
Another example: When I was a kid, I was overweight. I didn’t like being overweight, and there were a few times throughout my growing up years I tried to lose weight. But it was difficult, and the passion wasn’t really there. So after awhile I would quit trying. About halfway through high school, I started to get interested in dating, and I thought being overweight was hurting my chances to attract girls. Something clicked inside me, and the passion was there. The change effort wasn’t any easier than before. But the passion was there, so I was willing to put in the hard work that wasn’t fun in order to reach my goal. And it worked.
Discussion: How big is your passion for the thing you want to become excellent at? Are you willing to put in the time and effort that DEEP practice requires?