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One of the most intriguing beliefs that a lot of people have is the belief that because someone is excellent at something or displays incredible levels of skill it means that you can never become as skilful as them so there is no point in even trying.
This is a commonly held belief for a lot of people and it stops them from even attempting to learn a new skill. I remember speaking to a friend of mine at a dinner party who has an interest in modern art. After the initial chit-chat we naturally moved onto the subject of art and I asked her what her future plans were. She replied by telling me how de-motivated she was and that she just couldn’t seem to get herself into the right frame of mind to produce any artwork worthy of note. When I asked her what was stopping her from feeling motivated her reply was fascinating. She said, “Well it all started when I went to an art exhibition the other day and almost every piece of work was incredible…nearly perfect in every way…and I thought to myself…there is no way I can ever be as good as this so what’s the point in even trying!”
For some reason or another, a lot of people have the tendency to look at someone who does something really well, compare themselves to them, feel helpless and de-motivated and then consequently make no attempt to even start.
The reality of the situation, however, is that to hold on to this belief is completely and utterly ridiculous! Adopting this kind of attitude is a little bit like deciding to learn how to play the guitar and then saying to yourself, ‘oh what’s the point, I’m not as good as Jimmy Hendrix so there’s no point in even starting!”
In fact, when you really think about it, because someone has managed to become exquisitely good at something actually means that you are more likely to become good at that skill. Due to the fact that you can learn from them and find out what they did to become as skilled as they have, your chances of learning that skill become greatly increased. A more useful approach to take is, rather than comparing yourself to someone who is excellent at what they do, compare yourself with yourself. Now, at first glance, this may seem like a strange concept but it is an extremely effective and stress free way to learn a new skill. The key is to notice where you are at the moment in life and then, as you progress in various different areas, notice how much you are improving in comparison to how you were when you started. One of my close friends summed it up perfectly while we were enjoying a round of golf together. Someone had asked him if he thought he was a better golfer than the rest of his friends and he replied, “I have absolutely no idea…all I know is that I am roughly twice as good a golfer as I was this time last year.
By making this shift in attitude it enables you to focus your attention on your own personal development as apposed to trying to figure out whether or not you are better than someone else. There is also a high probability that you will begin to feel a wonderfully pleasurable sense of growth and progression as you become more and more skilful in your chosen application.
It is, however, still important to have a model of excellence
While I have stated that it is not useful to compare yourself to someone who is excellent at a particular skill, it is, obviously, still useful to identify a model of excellence in your particular field. However, rather than comparing yourself to them, view them as proof that it is possible to reach that level of skill and recognise that they are an invaluable resource that you can learn from in order to accelerate your own learning.
Steven Burns is a Society of NLP Trainer who conducts his NLP Trainings in Glasgow, Scotland. He is running an introductory course in NLP on February 21st, 2009 and an NLP Practitioner course in May, 2009. For more information check out his web site at www.solutionsinmind.net