"I fear not the man who has practiced 10000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10000 times." -- Bruce Lee
How much stuff are you trying to do once? How much better off might you be with repetition into key skills?
Depends if you're in a kicking contest or an anything-goes contest. Samurais vs ninjas!
Hrm. I'm not sure it really does. Although you make a good point.
But I like the ninja example, I'm going to run with it a bit. Below is speculative to make a point, not historical.
I would say that the ninja's required skill is stealth. The ninja must have practices stealth to an alarming degree.
After that, I imagine that the ninja's support skill levels might vary widely. One might be amazing with poisons, another might be able to throw a star with crazy accuracy. But others might just have adequate skills in these areas, and still get away with being ninja.
This is the approach that I advocate. Have a primary kick that you have practiced 10,000 times, hopefully one that's very effective for you. Then, maintain a secondary skill set that supports your kick... a few good blocks, punches, footwork. Finally, try to have a superficial knowledge of as much as you can.
If you do this haphazardly, it generally ends up less effective. But if you strategically maintain your secondary skills to balance your primary skill, I find this is more effective than really putting all your effort into one thing.
But Bruce Lee and Seb's point stands. I find that the cornerstone skill is usually present, and serves as a foundation and reference point for where you develop your other skills. Because a real cornerstone skill takes on the order of a decade to really develop. But it is often exponentially more effective, and a borderline requirement for superhuman achievement.
In consulting, this is known as being a "T-shaped" individual.
Very cool, thanks for the term. Wiki link for anyone else curious. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T-shaped_skills
I got in trouble early in my career as a software dev by being an ____ shaped individual. Good skills in too many domains, great skills in none.
It's not a very effective strategy. But having that good base, once I developed some deeper skills, I think the T approach is definitely better than a straight I.
A lot of my heroes come from the Sengoku Warring States Era of Japanese History. Here's two quotes from Tokugawa Ieyasu, founder of the Tokugawa Shogunate:
"Life is like unto a long journey with a heavy burden. Let thy step be slow and steady, that thou stumble not. Persuade thyself that imperfection and inconvenience are the natural lot of mortals, and there will be no room for discontent, neither for despair. When ambitious desires arise in thy heart, recall the days of extremity thou has past through. Forbearance is the root of quietness and assurance forever. Look upon the wrath of the enemy. If thou knowest only what it is to conquer, and knowest not what it is like to be defeated, woe unto thee; it will fare ill with thee. Find fault with thyself rather than with others."
"The strong manly ones in life are those who understand the meaning of the word patience. Patience means restraining one's inclinations. There are seven emotions: joy, anger, anxiety, adoration, grief, fear, and hate, and if a man does not give way to these he can be called patient. I am not as strong as I might be, but I have long known and practiced patience. And if my descendants wish to be as I am, they must study patience."
I think in the big picture, patience is the way forwards, the way to win. You take small actions each day towards getting what you want. But, I think it's critical to guard your time from nuisances and distractions. In micro, on the minute by minute level, I think being impatient is the better way - look to fill dead time with learning, dispense with formality and bureaucracy as quickly as possible, talk about things that matter instead of smalltalk and pleasantries, break away from organizations and people that don't respect your time. In macro, in the big picture, patience and steadiness is the way. In micro, on a day to day level, impatience is the way.
I may be one of the few people who would argue that much of the world revolves around fear and expectations, but let me try to present the argument to you.
First, the part on fear.
Fear plays a major, major role in all of our lives. In fact, it's kind of like an invisible friend that follows you around wherever you go. Every single decision you make has some element of fear attached to it. When I say that, I mean that fear played some part in the decision making process. While that may not be a huge deal, the huge deal is that we rarely acknowledge its participation in the decision making process.
Fear is like gravity. It's always there, and we get used to it. Fear sometimes spurs people into action, and other times withholds people from acting.
Like I said, every decision we make has an element of "fearsomeness" consideration. Do you turn left on the yellow light or wait? What if a police man sees you? What if you get hit? But what if the car behind you thinks you're going to pull through the light and they hit you from behind? All elements of fear. That's an easy example, but what about the more subtle ways fear affects us. Some people grow up with parents that tell them 'you can be anything you want to be.' Others have parents who say 'you have to be a doctor (or lawyer or XYZ) to carry on the family tradition.' The fear that the child won't honor the heritage of the family dictates that whole person's life. Imagine! One simple emotion dictating a person's entire life. If that's not deep-in-your-gut, mind blowingly significant I don't know what is. And few people face their fears! Instead we mask fear by other terms. "She's just shy" or "I'm just not good at [insert skill]." For example, being a telesales representative is not an easy job. I've rarely seen fear show its face so clearly as when you put a phone in front of someone and ask them to start cold-calling. Few people can stand up to the constant rejection. Oh, and how about public speaking? How many people would rather die than speak in front of an audience (literally - studies show many people would rather die!).