When it comes to learning new things, it takes time to build knowledge and skill. It also takes having a positive attitude and a belief in one’s ability to succeed. After all, optimism helps in the early stages of learning, before one has experience.
People who are new to something sometimes get in their own way by judging their progress. Because they do not yet understand the ins and outs of what they are learning, they can exaggerate the importance of small mistakes or perceived failures, assuming they are no good at something they simply haven’t given themselves a chance to acquire skill at. They may be too sensitive of the risk of loss or feeling bad. As a result, they may suffer a far greater consequence: giving up before they succeed, or not trying at all. What are actually small bumps in the road can scare off people from sticking with it, which is what, over time, brings success.
In order to get good at something, you need to do it enough to learn what works in that area. Seeing your own improvement helps you gain confidence. With confidence, you start to expect to succeed. Your expectations are powerful. Positive expectations attract more of what you want. It generally takes time to become successful in any endeavor. This is partly because of the need to acquire skill. It is just as much because of the need to acquire an expectation of success. Before someone has developed this, they may lack the certainty and confidence that tends to help things work out.
The funny thing is, while expertise can engender confidence and therefore success, it is not always required for it. Some people are outrageously optimistic, even before they have demonstrated any expertise in an area. While this might translate as arrogance, it often propels them forward to eventually build the skills to support their confident attitude.
We have all had areas of life where we were positive or hopeful even before we started. Doesn’t this positive attitude always help? I can usually trace my success in certain areas to attitudes I had as a child. For instance, I was always athletic and loved running. Running was wired into me as an enjoyable, desirable activity. Even after getting injured from overtraining last year, which led me to take off December and hardly run in the first two months of this year, I suffered no loss of enthusiasm for the sport. My positive attitude, and therefore my positive experience, is fully in tact.
Similarly with music, I knew I wanted to make music at an early age. Once upon a time, I was a little boy sitting on the floor in the sun room at my childhood home playing with a Playskool record player. Music already had a grip on me then. My desire propelled me to a career as a professional.
In both cases, whether through luck or fate, I had a positive attitude that has carried through many situations over the years– some easy, some quite challenging–to grow my skills and create success in two areas that matter to me. I’m sure it is this way in many, perhaps all, areas where people shine.
So which came first, the self-belief or the skill? Like the chicken or the egg conundrum, there is no easy answer. Both attitude and skill feed off each other.
Undoubtedly, one’s attitude and expectations have a large impact in whether that person ultimately acquires the level of skill they desire.