Lots of nice stuff can come from drilling down on one thing: you get to be really good at something, you might win some prizes and meet some cool people along the way, but what about all the other awesome stuff that you didn’t get to do because you were so focused on only being good at one thing?
I read a book a while ago that really brought it home for me. It was about an amazing mountain climber who climbed impossible climbs. He was able to do this because he has climbed since he was a kid and he totally drilled down on it and got to be one of the best climbers in the world. He’s still really good at it. He also seems like a really nice guy. There’s a movie coming out about him next month that I’ll definitely watch (trailer below).
Until reading the climbing book, I’d always wondered what it would have been like to have become really good at one thing. I’d always chastised myself for not sticking with anything long enough to gain the respect of my peers for my expertise. Sure, I’m pretty good at some stuff, ok at other stuff and piss-poor at pretty much everything else, but I’m really expert at nothing. The phrase “jack of all trades, master of none” has always sat just on my periphery, haunting me.
What I didn’t realise though, is that the whole time I’ve been drilling sideways, I have actually developed an expertise; one that I didn’t recognise until today: I’m an expert at living. I know how to apply myself to living a life that matters and the only way I was able to develop this awesome skill was to immerse myself in the entirety of life. To become everything and nothing. To be all of it at the expense of none of it. To experience and learn everything I can about what it means to be alive right now, the best time there ever was to be alive.
Being an expert at life means that I’m a better runner because I’m a dancer, I’m a better dancer because I’m a skipper, I’m a better skipper because I’m a rider, I’m a better rider because I’m a hiker, I’m a better hiker because I’m a reader, I’m a better reader because I’m a writer, I’m a better writer because I loved and I lost and all of it because I’m a survivor. Each thing I do and each thing I’ve ever done has lead me to the next and the next, and the next. Everything has built on the shoulders of the thing that came before it and man-o-man, I’ve built myself one shit-hot castle of a life; the whole thing made of golden bricks.
I know it’s pretty unlikely that I will ever get really good at anything other than being good at being alive and that’s ok because I’m going to keep drilling sideways.
Drill sideways by way of adventure