Many of us know how to cook something. Some like to BBQ, others like to bake cakes. Some like to read a newspaper. Others a book. Many like to cut the grass and others like to design backyards.
Life gives us many opportunities to learn new things and do different things that seem related but aren’t. What becomes fascinating is that having knowledge of or enjoy doing something never means you “know it all”. For the skills to do one thing well never gives you the right to automatically do something slightly different well.
Let me explain. My dream is to write a book. I am told it should be about 50,000 words in length. Twice a week for 9.5 years, I have written short essays of 300-500 words in length. Never missing a Monday or a Thursday. This has come easily to me. When I tried to write a chapter for a book, things became much harder.
To write a book you need a dominant theme and an outline that will bring logic to your writing that will keep a reader interested. How many facts, stories, and insights each chapter must bring will vary depending on what is trying to be said.
The amount of free time needed is much greater. Focus is demanded each minute that you write. There needs to be a continuity to your writing that short essays never demand.
The same is true of so many things we come in contact with. You may like music but never be a good DJ. Your professional career may be in human resources, and staffing yet you may never be any good at running your own company with your own employees. The baker and the person that loves to BBQ can cook food but most likely will initially fail when switching roles.
Different skills need to be learned in whatever endeavors you immerse yourself in. Especially when things look adjacent to each other. Just because we know something about cooking may not make us a good baker at the start.
By generalizing, we lose sight of the nuances that each skill and situation demands of us to be good at something related to what we already know. There are lots of little things that we or they have learned along the way that make us good at what we do. That is why things look so natural to us that can’t easily be explained.
But move slightly in a different direction and things rapidly change. We now don’t know any of the nuances of a different type of cooking or writing. So we need to start at the beginning and with practice, once again, build up new skills.
This is what leads to personal growth as well as to our greatest disappointments. We can succeed if we persevere and become discouraged when we don’t have the patience to understand that what we know how to do well will never exactly be what we need to do to succeed in a different, seemingly adjacent area.
Easy to say. Hard to live. But definitely worth the effort to understand.