I remember way back in the 8th grade, 10 years ago now, there was a big gathering of all the students in the 8th grade that had PE that period. And there was one PE teacher there that always came off as a drill instructor, he talked in a way that commanded respect even though he was never my teacher.
He was talking to us about the fitness test we would have at the beginning of the year and the end. He compared 2 hypothetical students, one was a tough guy that could do 50 push ups from the start, the other struggles and eeks out 5. At the end of the year, the tough guy could do 50 push ups while the other guy could do 10. The tough guy gets a C while the other kid gets an A.
For the longest time, I was really hung up on the math. I’d say to myself, “Mr. Doyle, there is no way you can go from 50 to 100 pushups in one semester. That wasn’t the point though, I was hung up on the math because I was the one that could do 50. No merit on my part, I just hit puberty early and my parents forced me to do Kung Fu which was physically demanding and forced me to become stronger.
The math was irrelevant, the point Mr. Doyle was making was effort. Which we all already know you need to work hard. The not so obvious point was seeing that hard work as a marathon, not a sprint. If you don’t already know, when you first learn something, that’s when you learn the fastest. You’re absolutely clueless so you gotta get up to speed. It’s the 80/20 principle. I experienced it first hand as an accountant and an English Teacher. If you don’t do your job, you’re fired.
But you see, getting to that point is the easy part. It’s the sprint at the start of the gunshot. It’s when you have the most:
That explosion in gains only took 20% of the time. After that well, it’s what marathon runners call “the wall.”
That’s when things get heavy. It’s when you face burnout because the output has been reduced. It’s when you need to put in 80% of the time and effort for the last 20% of the gains, if (and a big if) you want to perfect your craft.
Going back to push ups, that sprint to get to 50 is the easy part, the marathon to 100 is difficult. The marathon requires patience to complete. That sprint leads to an arrogant ignorance, thinking you know it all, while the marathon leads to a humble knowledge.
Kingston S. Lim
May 8, 2020