Persistence

“There is no better time than right now.” You may have heard this more than once regarding something you’ve been thinking about starting. In some ways it is true. In an extremely important way, however, it is very inaccurate.

It was late in life that I finally embraced many passions that had not been pursued for over a decade. (I’m 45 at the time of this writing, and the passions I have landed on were started at 40 and beyond.) Many times I found myself regretting that I had not started these earlier in life. Then I would catch myself, and think, “no, I started everything at the best time”: at a time where my mindset was in the correct spot.

Let me focus on learning how to play the guitar as an example. Earlier in my life, I had tried learning the guitar. I purchased one, tried learning for a while, and then gave it up. Eventually, I sold the guitar in a garage sale.

It wasn’t that I didn’t want to play the guitar, because I really had a genuine desire to play the guitar. It was that I wasn’t in the correct mindset to persist at learning how to play the guitar. We all have this idea that we’re special. Somehow, someway, we’ll pick it up and learn faster than anyone else. When that doesn’t happen, and the realization sets in that to meet the idea we had in our heads is going to take a lot of hard work and persistence, we tend to throw in the towel.

It was August of 2018. I was 41. It wasn’t necessarily the time for learning guitar had finally come, but rather the time the correct mindset for learning the guitar had finally arrived. I knew that this was going to be a journey. I knew that I was not going to be very good for a long, long, time. I knew that if I was going to be able to persist at learning to play the guitar that I was going to have to enjoy the journey; I was going to have to embrace those plateaus and rough patches of not getting any better.

While visiting XTreme Couture in Las Vegas for some mat time, I was able to roll with black belt Bryce Harley. After our roll we got to talking about our jiu jitsu histories. I had mentioned how I was bummed that I had started so late in life (a few months before turning 40). He reminded me that I got started at exactly the right time, and he was right. I wasn’t getting into jiu jitsu thinking I was going to be someone special, and begin kicking everyone’s ass. I got in knowing that this was going to be a long, tough journey.

It doesn’t matter whether I become great enough at guitar to be a rock and roll star. It doesn’t matter if I ever obtain a black belt in jiu jitsu. What does matter is that I enjoy the journey to wherever I end up, and that I persist in getting there.

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