Being able to throw a perfect spiral.
A well written blog post or
The effortless free throw.
These are all examples of things that are not inherently gifts, but skills. (Read This: You Need to Do Manly Shit)
As sad as it is, our culture of manhood has become averse to learning new skills.
In other words, we are way too comfortable doing what we’ve always been able to do.
When was the last time you learned a new sport, or any new skill for that matter?
Here’s the thing. Your dissatisfaction with your life could be stemming from the fact you haven’t learned how to do a new skill since high school.
When you got out of high school, all you had thought about was going to college, graduating, getting your 9-5 job, and then climbing the corporate ladder straight to retirement.
Lame. Is it a surprise you may be depressed with how your life turned out?
There is no passion.
You don’t get excited for anything. You go to work, come home deflated, maybe you go play hockey with your buddies, and then expect to magically feel better about our life.
Well I’m sorry to say, but it’s time you got yourself seriously uncomfortable.
As you learn how to do something new, you will find out more about who you truly are.
How will we invigorate our life again? By re-discovering the lost art of skill development.
This is where the excitement you once forgot comes to life again.
Have you ever wanted to learn how to powerlift?
What about learning how to play the guitar?
Maybe it’s learning how to write well?
All of these endeavours create an opportunity to explore ourselves deeper, come into a greater understanding of who we are.
The passion I talked about doesn’t come from the end result of skill mastery, but rather it comes from becoming better every day. The excitement comes from being a better version of yourself than who you were yesterday.
The Japanese have a word for this. It’s called Kaizen, or continual improvement.
Learning a skill, and becoming proficient at it gives us greater confidence, a deeper respect for those who practice that skill, and can help us reinvigorate our lives.
So here’s how we go about learning these new skills.
1. PICK SOMETHING YOU SUCK AT
Do this right now. Write down 3 things that you’ve always wanted to do.
This could be something physical, mental, or emotional. Are you bad at pull-ups but love the muscle up? Maybe you want to learn how to be a captivating public speaker who takes command of a roomful of people.
Either way, skill acquisition is not only fitness related, but about anything you can get better at.
2. TAKE ACTION NOW
Don’t wait until tomorrow. Tomorrow never comes. If you want to learn something, take action on it today.
Schedule guitar lessons.
Hire a Personal Trainer.
Sign up for toastmasters.
The most important part of all these is that they involve the element of a coach, or sensei.
3. EMBRACE THE SUCK
You will spend a good portion of time being terrible at this said skill. You WILL fail over and over.
Learning guitar will mean a lot of partially played, terrible sounding notes.
The muscle-up will involve lots of regressions from the pull-up, maybe even doing simple rows.
Public Speaking will involve a lot times where just before you head on stage, your mind says “Oh my word, I think I’m going to vomit.”
This stage is where it’s important to have a mentor or a Yoda. These people will help you stay committed past the “Holy Crap I suck” stage.
Embrace the suck my friend. If you keep diligently practicing it gets better.
4. GET BETTER
We have the bad habit of over-emphasizing the people who are the top 10% in any field. We look up to speakers like Brene Brown and we think “I could never speak like her.”
Since I’m a personal trainer, I’ll use the example of Rich Froning. We can look up to him, but we think “Ha! There’s no way I’ll be his level of fitness.”
Well, maybe you can’t at this stage. You may be at 10% of your skill development, while Rich and Brene Brown are at 80-90% of their capacity.
My friend, you have a lot of room to grow. I believe that through practice, we can get to within 75-80% of our natural capacity for any given skill.
Those opportunities at toastmasters and with your trainer will help you grow 1-5% better every single day.
5. RISE, WASH, REPEAT
Rinse, wash, repeat from stage 2 until you are at the level you desire.
A skill is NOT something you are born with. It is something that is achieved through dedication, focus, and a fierceness to not give up until you are satisfied.
A skill is also defined as the ability to do something well. Since well is a relative term, are you able to do your skill well enough for personal satisfaction?
Getting better at this skill isn’t about getting global recognition, but can you perform your new skill to the level you want?
Great. You are left with two options. Either learn a new skill, or continue to get better until you start to see diminishing returns on your investment of time.
Learning a new skill can be freeing. It allows you to empty your mind and focus on what is happening RIGHT NOW. You feel invigorated because you’re stepping out of your comfort zone.
Finally, you become more of the man YOU want to be. Not what anyone else has decided for you. Becoming a man that has lives his life with passion is what this is all about.
About The Author
Linden Ellefson is a Personal Trainer from Calgary, AB Canada. He went from a skinny, chronically injured marathon runner to a healthy, strength focused trainer. Linden is focused on getting clients strong and pain free after injuries, while having them live their best life possible. He also has an affinity for quality coffee, deadlifts, and boston terriers.
You can contact him at –