A few weeks back I went to the gym with a friend of mine. We’re both getting up there in years and we’re both carrying around more weight than we should. I’ve been hitting the gym for well over a year; this was his first trip in years.
My friend was energized when we started. As the workout progressed the chore ahead took its toll. After a while he puttered out and had to stop. I continued with my workout and we caught up afterward.
He felt awful about not being able to go far. I’m out of shape, he said. This is hard. A lot harder than I expected it to be.
I nodded. Then I told him to stop apologizing. I told him half the battle is showing up. So many people say they want to follow their passion or do the thing they really want to do. Lose weight. Act. Write. Paint. Make movies. Raise a family. These people always put off until tomorrow, and for many tomorrow never comes. It’s sad.
My friend, however, managed to get his ass up out of bed and make it to the gym before the sun came up. He tried. He did the best he could at the time, I know he did, and he gave it his all. That’s the important part.
If you want to develop talent, two things are really important: time and effort. I’d say effort is the more important element: if you show up and spend lots of time without pushing yourself to be better you won’t improve. On your first workout you most likely won’t run a marathon. The first script you write or the first film you make probably won’t win an Oscar. I talk more about this in Have Pride in Your Work.
Life isn’t a television show. We can’t wrap all our problems up neatly in 30-60 minutes. To reach our goals, we need to consistently put ourselves into our work. Show up and work hard – you can do it.