Fireside Sunday: Life is a Skill; Practice

Skills are abilities that we can learn and improve. We tend to think of them in terms of concrete, physical activities, which often involve the use of tools or instruments. Shoot a gun. Fix a car. Play piano.

We view all other traits and activities as things that are in some way – things we are or are not good at, or are or are not willing to be.

Yet much of what we do outside of a workshop or studio should rightly be understood as skills as well.

Decision making is a skill.

Parenting is a skill.

Camping and traveling are skills.

Being thoughtful is a skill. Just like being spontaneous.

Conversation is a skill. Have a hard conversation is another.

Listening is also a skill.

There is a skill in gaining insight. To know when you are right. To admit that you are wrong.

Self-awareness. Self control. Self-efficacy. Skill. Skill. Skill.

Like all skills, these things, and more, can be developed. Like all skills too, they feel clunky and difficult at first. It’s not necessarily a sign that you’ll never be good at them, or that they’re not for you, just that you’re still a beginner, with a lot to master.

Life opens up once you realize it’s basically just a set of skills that can be trained and perfected. The more you work on them, the more natural they become; the more your confidence and skills grow, the more you are able to not only enjoy life, but make the most of it.

We all sit before the ivory keys of existence, and the difference between the individual who never exceeds the equivalent of “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” and the one who is finally able to play a beautiful concerto, it is simply the willingness to engage rather than avoid, to learn from mistakes and to practice, practice, practice.

Valerie J. Wallis