Sunday, May 13, 2012

Persistence, Skill, Talent, and, Possibly, Stupidity

I don't pay much attention to skateboarding or any of the extreme sports.  At my age, a shower is an extreme sport.  But I ran across a list of "10 Amazing Alternative Sports Clips" on Listverse where I sometimes manage to waste way too much time.  The other clips are mostly accomplishments during competition.  A couple of the clips, though, show a person practicing to gain the skill. 

Chris Cole -- 360 Flip.  This is almost painful to watch.  Apparently what he is trying to do is cause the skateboard to make one full rotation under him as both he and the board fly independently through the air.  That this is not easy becomes evident very quickly.  Each failure means that he hits the concrete.  Nevertheless, he gets up and goes again and again and again.  One count says 67 times to perfect this maneuver. 

My point has nothing to do with skateboarding but with what it takes to persist and develop a skill.  Chris Cole may have been blessed with good reflexes and some natural athletic ability.  He was certainly blessed with a high tolerance for pain and/or is in possession of really good drugs.  He fails and fails and fails and keeps trying.  Most of us would say after the tenth or the twentieth or the thirtieth failure that we were just not meant to do this thing, whatever it might be. 

Watch this clip all the way through.  See the knots on Cole's forearms.  Then remember, if you are willing to pay the price, persistence and determination will take you a lot farther than undeveloped, untested talent or genius. 

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