I’m a learner…

I wrote this post a little while ago, and it was shared at get4sight.com. However, I really wanted to share it here because it’s the heartbeat of the 1,000-Hour Pro message. Also, be sure to check out 4Sight with my friend Jenni Catron! She’s an incredible leader that I admire, and 4Sight is an amazing way to learn more about how you can grow as a leader!

I’m a learner. I always have been. I guess it all started when I would break out the hammer and screwdriver on an old television, computer, remote or other non-cooperative electronic device. I’d always do my best to take it apart but the boy that I am sometimes took over, hence why the hammer was there. That’s probably why my mom always insisted I put a dish towel under whatever I was destructing: counter protection.

I’d take everything apart just because I was curious. What did a circuit board look like? Was there actually a tube in the television as we asked each other if anyone wanted “to watch some tube?” How many wires actually make this work? That’s all I wanted to know. I just wanted to know the answers. I didn’t much care about what it would take to fix the television that wasn’t working.

We’ve read stories like this before. Some billionaire spent hours as a child tinkering with gadgets to make them the expert they are today. Curiosity would make Bill Gates spend hours writing code on a community machine as a high-schooler. He would write and write and write. Any free time he had, the Microsoft founder would spend learning the ins and outs of the new technology that was a computer.

But that’s not me.

When I would take something apart, I wanted to see it and then I was done. The pieces would stay disassembled. I would whack some stuff with the hammer because I was a ten-year-old boy and liked to break stuff and then throw the pieces in the trash. I tried putting something back together once and after a couple futile attempts threw it in the trash.

And I think of that as the problem. I’ve always been interested enough in something to learn a little about it but never enough to truly master it. In a world of 10,000-hour experts, I’m more of a 100-hour amateur.

I know a lot about design, photography, videography, writing, coding, writing, speaking, history, math, golf, music, technology and the list could continue. But I know a lot about the sum of those things. Those are commas for a reason. They’re not periods because I can’t say, “I know a lot about design. I know a lot about photography.” And I easily begin to feel bad about my skills, talents, passion, dedication and grit to stick with something.

I work with some of the most talented marketers, designers, musicians, videographers, photographers and speakers that I’ve ever known, or even seen for that matter. So I look at my skill set and begin to feel lesser than those people. I can’t do what any of them do, and I’m not confident that I ever will. Not that I’m not capable. Just that I’ve never had the desire to stick with something until I’ve mastered every minute detail of it like these people have.

But I recently came to a realization. They can’t do what I do either.

I’m not less valuable because I only know a little bit about each of their areas. I’m not less talented because I only know a little bit about each thing. I’m not better either. I’m just different.

One of the things that helped me come to this realization was an interview I read recently. An ESPN reporter was talking with Golden State Warriors Head Coach, Steve Kerr. The reporter was talking to Kerr about the comparisons of his current Warriors team to the 1996 Chicago Bulls. The ’96 Bulls are still considered one of, if not the, best NBA team of all-time, winning an unprecedented 72 games. Now Kerr has a unique perspective on both the 2015-16 Warriors and the historic Bulls of the 90’s as he coaches the Warriors and played for the ’96 Bulls.

As Kerr talked about defensive match ups for an impossible, hypothetical game between these two squads, he focused in on one aspect of the ’96 Bulls that stuck a chord with me: The Bulls often had four guys on the floor that could play any of the positions on the floor and sometimes all five could be interchangeable. Kerr was both comparing the flexibility in the Warriors lineup to this Bulls team as well as lamenting the potential matchup difficulties for the Warriors because people like Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen could play anything from point guard to small forward. They were diverse. They could dribble, shoot or pass. They could play inside with the guys who were 6’10” or they could shoot from outside the arc. They knew each position well enough to play it if that’s what most helped the team.

Now, I am by no means putting myself in the same realm as one of the greatest basketball lineups of all-time. But I think there’s a valuable lesson in what Steve Kerr pointed out. Diversity causes problems for the opposition. Diversity makes a team better. Diversity creates success. And without saying it, Kerr noticed that diversity kept players on the floor.

I’m not an amazing designer. I don’t have the best voice or most musical talent. But I can do a little bit of each of those things. I can tweak a design when a designer’s busy. I can lead worship when no one else is in town on Christmas Eve. And with the skill set and attitude to say “I can…”, I make my team better, and I ensure that I always stay in the game.

 

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