“Why don’t I ever get the promotion I deserve?” “I wasn’t born to go to work, pay bills, and die.” “I want more out of my life.” “Livin’ the dream.” “It’s just another Monday.” “There has to be more to life than this.”
Have you ever heard language like this and felt it resonate with you? Perhaps you’ve heard so many people say these things that you’ve come to the conclusion that everyone is bored, no one likes their job, and everyone is yearning for something more. But you’ve realized that since it’s eluded everyone else, it must not exist.
The point of this article is to testify to you that something more does exist. And even better, it is readily accessible to every single person on this planet. I’m going to use the science of Anders Ericsson’s book “Peak” and the Gospel to suggest that there is a great secret to the universe that holds the key to your satisfaction. And I hypothesize that among those who already adopt this view, there are higher rates of promotion, higher earnings, greater professional and personal achievements, more children in advanced classes or excelling in home schools, and higher rates of happiness overall.
After a considerable amount of thought, I’ve concluded that this elusive secret of the universe is the key to my own professional success thus far in my journey to become a Renaissance Man. Things I’ve been able to achieve with this “secret” include learning to paint and play the piano, becoming an engineer, authoring 12 novels (11 published thus far), becoming an intermediate-advanced rock climber, beginning to learn to read, write, and speak Russian and Spanish, and completing medical school and entering surgery residency to train to become a surgeon. Many people ask me “how do you do all the stuff you do?” My answer: I just started trying.
And you can do it, too. I earnestly believe that everyone reading this has the ability to achieve their own version of excellence.
So what’s the secret?
God designed you to be excellent.
You already have within you the potential to do truly amazing, extraordinary things. There is very little outside of your grasp. You may be balking at this statement and asking, “So why isn’t everyone doing amazing, extraordinary things, then?” Well, here’s the tricky part about this undeniable truth:
1) You need to want to be excellent. If you started reading this post, there’s a chance you already meet this criteria. There’s something missing from your life and you know it. You want that promotion, you want your kid to be in the advanced classes, you want to feel like you’ve accomplished something with your life, and you just aren’t quite sure how to do it. This is step 1. Want something more than your current level of achievement. Check.
2) You must engage in purposeful practice. This is the science part. Anders Ericsson wrote an excellent book about performance science. Go get a copy of “Peak” and read it–even if you just read the first few chapters. The gist: you need to find something to become excellent at and you need to try. But don’t try harder. Try smarter. Find someone who has already done the thing you want to do and copy what they do. Then, as you approach their level, find someone better, and copy what they do. Research, try, and learn.
There is literally nothing you can’t achieve with this method, as long as it is within the realm of physical possibility. You can become an expert in virtually anything–that’s what Ericcson’s science says. You can get that promotion you want. You can become the boss of the person who got that promotion you wanted. Very, very few people in an extremely limited number of circumstances are fundamentally better or worse than anyone else at anything. It is up to you to take advantage of your own potential and take it as far as you want to go.
3) Go back to #1, and find something else that you want to do in life. Repeat Step 2 and become excellent at it. Do this enough times, and you will become a truly extraordinary person, talented at many things, excelling in things that give you joy, and feeling like you’re really getting the most out of your 70-100ish years on Earth.
But you must first believe with all your heart and soul that this is who you are. I am here to promise you, to almost plead with you to believe that you are that person.
The Gospel says that before you were born, you and your Heavenly Father sat down and had a chat. He explained to you that you would be born in a certain place in a certain family and would experience certain trials specifically designed for you, because they would help you become the person you were made to be.
Literally every person ever born has within them the potential to excel at an infinite combination of interesting things. Heavenly Father sent us all to a world–to a universe, in fact–that has an endless array of things to choose from. We humans are infinitely complex, ourselves. We are analytical, emotional, logical, mathematical, artistic, and athletic. We are pale peach, light yellow, dark brown, and every color in between. We are computer programmers, mountain climbers, accountants, engineers, surgeons, chefs, hunters, salesmen, and an infinite number of other random things. Every one of us has a nearly unlimited potential and are in a nearly unlimited environment to achieve it.
The end of the hymn “If you could Hie to Kolob” from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints sums it up best:
- There is no end to matter;There is no end to space;There is no end to spirit;There is no end to race.
- There is no end to virtue;There is no end to might;There is no end to wisdom;There is no end to light.There is no end to union;There is no end to youth;There is no end to priesthood;There is no end to truth.
- There is no end to glory;There is no end to love;There is no end to being;There is no death above
I want to run across another surgeon who SCUBA dives, composes music, speaks fluent Greek, and can name every country if you point to it on a map. I want to meet a mom who is also a martial arts black belt, a pastry chef, an Old Testament scholar, and is certified in Stop The Bleed, CPR, and Advanced Cardiac Life Support. I want to shake the hand of a police officer who is a proud Dad and also a Cub Scout Den Leader, an amateur carpenter, an expert in baseball history, and plays the trombone. I want to read about a Navy Captain who decided to apply to NASA and fulfill his lifelong dream of becoming an astronaut. Maybe he doesn’t achieve it–maybe he’s not selected. But that’s okay. He tried, and that in itself is excellent!
What kind of amazing adventures are awaiting you? Don’t waste another second of your precious life here on Earth. You were born to be excellent. When you accept your true nature as an excellent person, you can take the next step and begin the purposeful practice that it takes to achieve that excellence. Go fulfill your destiny. Godspeed!