The Unappreciated, Much-Aligned, Essential Ally in Skill Development and Mastery

Time is key to skill development.

But even deeper… it’s a formidable ally that has worked with the human species for millennia.

You can think of Time as an indispensable tool in your mastery toolkit.

Time isn’t an enemy, nor an obstacle.

Time isn’t a bother, nor a bore.

Time is essential.

If you look at Time as a friend, as the force that gives a new skill the space it needs to flourish… you can, funny enough, attain fluency faster.

I now see Time as something like the surface upon which I sit whenever I sit down to learn something or practice. And the longer I sit with Time, the better I’ll become.

I think of Time as the ally of our ancestors, the thing that allowed us to escape the perpetual present that most animals seem imprisoned.

As we became aware of Time, we saw that we could make predictions and plan ahead.

We saw that we could wait and watch what happens.

We saw that we could plant seeds and the seeds would grow.

We saw that we could prepare to prosper.

To paraphrase Jordan Peterson: The discovery of time is akin to the discovery of the future. “It’s the most profound discovery of humankind.”

But awareness of Time, though incredible, isn’t enough on its own.

Attention + Effective Effort + Time = Mastery. 

This is a confounding thing. It’s mesmerizing. I would go as far as to say it’s miraculous.

I wish I would have realized this when I first started playing the guitar. It would have changed everything.

Instead of getting frustrated with mistakes, I would see them all as opportunities, because I knew Time was on my side to help me see and fix all of my mistakes.

Instead of getting impatient with my progress, I would recognize that Time is on my side, and I’m going to improve precisely proportionate to the level of focus and quality of attention I bring to the Time granted to me.

Instead of getting distracted, feeling like there were better uses of my attention, I would remember that Time is on my side, supporting the ongoing unfoldment of something beautiful in bloom.

I would have made the most out of the Time I got.

But it’s never too late to not take Time for granted. I’m grateful to see it differently now (as often as I can remind myself).

I can’t know how much Time I get. Or how much I have left.

But in seeing Time as a companion instead of this dooming, damning thing that’s ticking and taking away… my eyes are open, and I’m eager to learn and make the most of the moment.

The tedium of skill development becomes something I share with Time.

The setbacks are something I experience with Time.

The pain of the process and the self-doubt are all felt in tandem with Time.

And I’m confident that if you adjust the dynamics of your relationship with Time… it’ll serve you and your skills well.

Your body may decay, but for as long as you have a mind in Time, it continues to adapt. 

This ability to invest our attention wisely and well while using Time as a tool for development is imperative.

A tiny amount of effective effort, applied consistently over Time, leads to astonishing results.

You’ve done this with language.

You’ve done this with reading.

You’ve done this with guitar.

We can do this with anything. It’s truly a superpower.

I’ll leave you with this slightly tweaked quote from Robert Greene, drawing from his excellent book, Mastery:

“To the extent that we believe we can skip steps, avoid the process, magically gain [skills] through easy formulas, or depend on our natural talents, we move against the grain and reverse our natural powers. We become slaves to time––as it passes, we grow weaker, less capable, trapped in some dead-end.”

Until next Time,

Joshua

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