Admittedly, this blog is mostly a knee-jerk reaction to the fact a 5-year-old has beaten me to yellow belt (well done Sam!), but this blog is about the argument of ability versus experience.
One of the comments that really stuck with me when I started Karate a few weeks ago was when Sensei said, “When you reach black belt, you are a beginner”. If that is true then I am pre-beginner – I am the Karate Nursery Kid. Ha!
I don’t feel so bad by that measure, because it is therefore correct that a 5-year-old should beat me to yellow belt…after all, he has a good head-start in learning terms. OK, so I am jealous of a 5-year-old! The green-eyed monster has gone away now.
In my profession (graduate recruitment and development) we are constantly telling graduates that, “if you’re good enough, then you can climb the career ladder to senior management quicker than anyone else. The sky is the limit. You too, can be Managing Director by the time you are 30.”
I’m beginning to question the validity of using these aspirational phrases without the caveat, “…but it will probably take you much longer than you expect – much, much longer”.
Rule 5: work hard and smart
Some people are always going to be ‘better’ at doing some things than others: quicker, stronger, more intelligent etc. Ability is affected by environment and nurture too, but when all things are equal what really matters is hard work. I’ve come to the conclusion that where certain skills are concerned, time dedicated to learning wins over ability. How many people do you know who are ‘talented’ but did not work hard enough, only to be overtaken by the ‘less talented’ but much more hard-working individuals? Malcolm Gladwell says that it takes about 10,000 hours of hard work and dedication to become an ‘expert’ at something. By that yard stick, I will be learning Karate for about 8 years before I get to black belt.
I’ve also come to the conclusion (perhaps prematurely), that learning Karate is like perfecting a golf swing…the best of the best practice and practice and practice in the knowledge that it can never quite be perfected.
My first grading session is next week – Sammy, by my estimation you will probably get to green belt before I get to yellow belt!
Wish me luck…