Proficiency, Competence, and the Incapable Hero

One guy swims the lake and makes it look easy.  He’s an accomplished swimmer. 

When he gets to the other side, it’s no big deal.  He towels off, and gets on with things.  No fanfare.

Another guy crosses the lake, but he’s not a very good swimmer.  He’s floundering, splashing, gasping for air, and making all kinds of “Oh-my-God” noises.  But, somehow he makes it to other side.  When he gets there, he’s out of breath, almost crying; almost dying.    

Everyone rallies around him (including EMTs).  He gets hugs, a blanket, oxygen, and even a news story.  In that story, the writer even used the word “hero”.     

But … he’s not a hero.  He’s just a really bad swimmer.  And that’s okay; hell, I suck at swimming, which is why I don’t try to swim across the lake. 

In the meantime, it’s easy to forget or disregard how the first guy became so skilled and proficient. 

It’s like that story of Pablo Picasso.  He’s sitting in a restaurant, when a woman approached him and asked if he could scribble something on a napkin and said she’d pay whatever he thought it was worth.  So, he did and said, “$10,000”.

Astonished, she said, “But, it only took you thirty seconds.”

Picasso replied, “No, it took me thirty years.” 

Years of hard work; thousands of hours of training, studying, practice, fortitude, financial struggle, learning, physical stress, mental stress, risk, immersion, and sacrifice.   

Pros navigate the storm, coffee in one hand and the helm in the other.  

To the incapable “hero”, it looks easy. 

It’s not.

Photo by John Silliman on Unsplash

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