This weekend, my brother-in-law graciously offered to tile our bathroom. He does this for a living, so he is naturally very good at it. I, on the other hand, do not, and am naturally very, very bad at it.
What struck me as amazing is how easily he came in, looked at the bathroom, came up with an optimal placement and started on it. It looked pretty easy. Later, he was marking the tiles that needed to be cut and handing them to me to cut on the tile saw. He would hold the tile one way, make a mark, hold it another, make a mark and then use a square to draw a line showing me where to cut it. Simple. Not really.
I tried my hand at marking the tile while he made some complicated cuts. It took me nearly three minutes just to figure out how to get the square aligned with the tile to cut the diagonal I needed. Even then, I did something wrong because the tile didn’t quite fit once I cut it.
When I was young, I remember watching a skilled person exercising their craft and thinking, “That doesn’t look hard. I could do that.” Maybe it is a slightly higher level of maturity or just raw experience that now made me watch (and attempt to help) and think “Look how skilled he is. He makes it look so easy!”
It is common to overlook the amount of experience behind the ease with which a skilled worker performs their job. Getting good at something takes an investment of time, and there aren’t shortcuts. If you want to develop a skill, you have to make the investment of time in order to get to the point that people will look at you working and say, “That looks easy!”
Matt Bowgren says
Tiling a floor is the easiest task in tiling as well. Tiling gets more complicated when you start creating mosaics, complex patterns, working with ungauged tile (not of a uniform thickness), etc… It takes time to become very good at it, but as a DIYer, I can say that nobody should be afraid of tiling a floor using ceramic tile. Just be sure to read what you can get your hands on and watch a few different videos online and you’ll be on your way.
Chris Edgar | Purpose Power Coaching says
Thanks for this — that’s a great reason, I think, why it’s so important to be able to enjoy the process of learning — if we’re only focused on the end result, like tiling the bathroom expertly, we aren’t going to be motivated to finish the learning process it takes to make it easy.
WT McRae says
I teach and perform circus for children. I have decent proficiency in many circus skills. This summer, a student asked me to demonstrate club juggling. I had never invested the time in the skill and therefore had none. When I told him I didn’t know how, the student said: “Then why aren’t you practicing juggling clubs?” I proceeded to work on club juggling. What I found was that the other students became more willing to take risks on other equipment. Rather than showing a skill that I had polished, they were able to see that getting good takes practice. It takes the bitterness out of something being hard. I had told my students many times that all they had to do was fail as many times as it took to succeed, but demonstrating that was invaluable. I wish more teachers could teach the skills of learning by example, not just the information or vocational skills.
Thank you for your post.
It takes a lot of effort to make something look effortless.
Laura Tapper says
More importantly, it illustrates knowing where your own strengths and weaknesses lie and recognizing when you need to have others do something, rather than taking on a project you can’t handle alone.
jerry crotty says
I once heard a presenter make a similar point recounting a visit to a friend’s house in the country where his son expected to be allowed to drive a jeep for the first time though some fields or on some dirt roads . . .
Because it rained that afternoon, the son could only sit in the jeep in the garage while the owner told him all about how to drive . . .
Undaunted, some time later,the son ran in the house, “Hey Dad, I can drive a jeep! . . . ” he reported.
‘You can?,” the surpriesed father replied.
“Yeah, . . .listen.” (and then proceeded to repeat what he was told in the garage).