Previously from the category On Life
I have a faint memory of when I was in high school of what one of my teachers called ‘the fifty-page rule’. I’m not sure where he may have gotten it, but the rule is a relatively good one for those new to reading books. The rule goes something like this: When you pick up a book, read the first fifty pages of it, and if you don’t like the book after the first fifty pages, just stop reading and move on to the next one. The first fifty pages are, more often than not, a proving ground for that book to hook your attention until the end, and therein lies a big question: Why do it in the first place?
Now, although this post isn’t collectively about reading books, It is about trying something new and adapting the same concept of the fifty-page rule. I’m talking about trying new skills and why it’s important to try in the first place.
From A Couch Potato…
I hate to break it to you, but being a couch potato, sadly, isn’t a skill. Sure, while watching your favorite show you can really take in a good story to inspire yourself, but if you’re constantly drooling away at the newest brain tranquilizer on the tube, do yourself a favor: turn it off and take a moment to collect your thoughts.
No one likes to be preached to, I know. Telling you to stop doing something you enjoy is like telling an alcoholic to stop drinking –It’s just something you have to do on your own accord–, But I can tell you from experience that building onto yourself is a much more fulfilling experience than building upon trivial knowledge of any sort.
So, the chips and soda haven’t been kind to your figure, wasting away all those hours in front of the TV has dulled your brain to hammer at a problem rather than cut through it, and when it comes to finishing something, it’ll get done when it gets done, right? But let’s say you’d like to change those habits up a bit; there’s no one stopping you but yourself. So, in order to get into the groove of becoming your own hero, we’ll need to look at some examples. So for the time being keep watching that TV show, but take notes as you watch.
What makes your protagonist such an interesting as a character?
This man or woman (possibly even a non-humanoid) shows traits that you’re attracted to as the viewer and may also see yourself having, whether in your imagination or in the future. They might have the muscle, the mindset, and the skills to handle all of these grueling situations with fierce execution and absolute stability.
Now, imagine how boring it would be if the protagonist of your TV show did nothing but go through the motions of life like some of us may have been doing for a while now. Doesn’t even sound like a protagonist does it? So, my question at this point is what really separates you from them?
The answer is time
To touch on this briefly, this day and age we as humans no longer look for the long-term gratification that our ancestors did, but it’s the long-term that keeps our bodies sharper, our minds fixated, and builds the necessary skills to be the hero we dream of becoming.
…To A Hero
Keeping your protagonist in mind, how do they help render a mental image of what we as individuals perceive as good?
Well, they typically have a very well-rounded set of skills that make them such an interesting character. Good morale, physical appearance, knowledgeable, charismatic, and a sense of humor are a few of the traits that make the protagonist someone to be remembered; Even though they don’t actually exist.
You can’t deny the old thought, ‘What would [Insert Main Character Here] do?’
Now, before you think I’m trying to say you should mimic verbatim what your hero does, I promise I’m not. What I am saying is that we have skill-building resources that are better than ever before. There’s no excuse as to why you can’t become the heroic version of yourself, or maybe be the hero of someone who looks up to you.
So, take some time this week and jot down what you do per hour. Even if your daily schedule has only allotted three hours of free time, think about what you could be doing rather than wasting time watching someone else be the hero. Malcolm Gladwell, a famous pop psych writer, came up with the ten thousand hour rule stating, ‘It takes ten thousand hours of deliberate practice to become world class at something.’ Think about that while writing this schedule and let the skills you’d like to learn flood your mind. Pick a worthy one and try it out.
A Practical Example
Two years ago I was edging closer to having my own custom PC. Why? My only real reason at the time was to become a youtube content creator. It seemed like a lot of fun and with enough time you get paid for your effort. Nine months worth of purchasing all the ‘necessary’ pieces to build this little part of me was the first big accomplishment I had as a young adult.
Sadly, me trying to become an established content creator flopped like a fish out of water, but I learned a few good lessons from the experience as a whole:
- You don’t need to wait for anything to start the pursuit of a set of skills.(I started studying the ins and outs of youtube for 9 months before I recorded a single video all because I was waiting to have my PC built. As the old saying goes, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.” So don’t wait for circumstance to be in your favor.)
- Do NOT do something just for the money. (I literally traded a job for a job when I took a step back to look at why youtube had lost my interest so quickly. Think of something you’re passionate about when you start learning a skill. Don’t think of the wealth and fame associated with it.)
- Don’t think that it’s a total loss when you fail at something.(for one, I learned important lessons from the whole endeavor that stuck quite well; for two, I have a PC now, and I use it for editing photography and writing this blog. The Photoshop skills come in handy as well.)
In the end, try something at the very least. If you think it could turn into something amazing in the future, keep pursuing it. The worst that can happen is that you have the experience of trying, and the best is that you uncover a new passion that you wouldn’t have known about otherwise. Either way, you’ll have something to show for it.
Just ask yourself what you see as a small, yet worthy skill to have. Ask yourself how it correlates to what kind of person you’d like to become in the future. Most importantly of all, try it. You may suck at it and think it’ll never work out, but you may only be on the 20th page. You may not see a result until the 48th page, so keep reading and only when you’re finished should you make the call on whether or not it’s a worthy pursuit.