At What Should We Be Good?

Bob Hempker, still pretty good at what he does.
Bob Hempker, still pretty good at what he does.

Daily Prompt: I Have Confidence in Me

Are you good at what you do? What would you like to be better at.

People who are good at what they do likely have only one ingredient that makes them good at what they do. It is something we all possess. It is endurance; endurance at a particular discipline. Not just the mindless repetition of a given discipline, but having in mind the idea of improving.

Several years ago the 10,000 hours of practice was offered as a bench mark for becoming good at something. There is nothing magical about that number, but many who had mastered a discipline and rose to the top of it were said to log-in at least 10,000 hours of practice in their given field.

This was based largely on the experience of musicians.

There are, of course, other factors such as genetics, environment, and desire to name a few. Anyone having all these ingredients if they don’t endure, they will not succeed or become good at what they do.

There must also be something else in a person that tells them ‘I can improve.’ and to never be satisfied with the current level of performance. Not to a point that nothing is ever good enough, because one must have a sober estimation of ones own work. One must have a healthy emotional and mental outlook of self.

Being good is best measured not in comparison with others, but in comparison with your own goals, abilities, and progress.

Not all disciplines recognize the best or most talented. And if they do there are many other factors that determine whether one is recognized as being good or not. Such things as being at the right place at the right time or knowing the right people.

I recall several years ago when Garth Brooks was at the very top of the country music world. He pointed down a street full of bars and clubs in Nashville and said, “I can go down this street and find at least a dozen guys that can sing better and are better looking than me. I can’t explain it.”

Being good at something does not bring fame or fortune. That should never be the measure of whether a person is good at something or not.

I have an old high school friend, Bob Hempker. Over the years he’s played steel guitar in bands for some of the biggest stars in country music. You might say he was at the top of his game.

In school we had a few classes together and were bonded by the same off-beat wry sense of humor that few understood. Somehow we got in touch with one another a couple of years back. He mentioned his years on the road as a musician. He had some successes and yet thoughtful enough to mention regrets.

Now in his mid sixties he said to me during one of our conversations, “I only play on the weekends now, but. I’m still a pretty decent musician.”

There was something about the way he said that. It sticks with me. There is little doubt he’s good, but the most important person he’s good to is himself.

What’s amazing is that he is the same person I cracked jokes with in Mrs. Klingler’s History class and Mr. Basinger’s English class. He was always aware of how good he was and what his limitations were.

I suppose if we choose to be good at anything it should be knowing who we are. Who else do we spend the most time with? At least 10,000 hours.

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