Sunday, September 10, 2017

Skill, Will & Thrill

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Monsta X at Rosemont Theatre, Chicago 2017

I found an interesting article on NPR’s MindShift by Katrina Schwartz called How Do You Know When a Teaching Strategy is Most Effective?. She discusses work by John Hattie, who builds rankings to hone in on what are best (and worst) influences on student outcomes. What really interested me was what Dr. Hattie said of students: they bring 3 important things to the learning table: skill, will and thrill.

Wow. Those 3 words vibrated inside me for their implications for us all.


Natural talent? It’s rare. If you’re lucky enough to find something quickly that you’re good at, great. In most cases, however, we learn skills over time. It’s the whole reason behind schools, apprenticeships, mentorships- even libraries and museums. We all need to absorb information, process it, and then work on applying it.

This truth requires something of us, though. We all must develop a comfort with screwing up. Both in the doing and in the embracing of the process in others.


Have you ever felt the flush of shame at not doing something correctly? Have you felt like you want to climb in a hole to avoid the laughter and derisive comments of others? Have you ever decided to not participate in something because of your fear you’d fail or be on “the losing side”?

In my opinion, we do a very poor job at accepting failure in ourselves and others. We’re starting to, but we have a long way. I love how fitness professional Ben Booker drills the phrase “Live to Fail” in his workout videos over and over again. He looks great now, but he recounts how he hit “rock bottom” and only grew when faced with utter adversity and failure. One can take comfort in that idea. It can give us the will to go on.

How do we build our willpower? Not only does our culture need to embrace failure as a normal part of growing and we need to welcome it for ourselves as well, we need excitement. We need…


I asked some hard questions before. How about some more positive ones: Have you ever felt you were a part of team that could reach a goal? Have you ever had an idea that kept you up at night with excitement over the prospect of achieving? Has your whole being suddenly and completely lit up with a flash of insight?

If you’re not interested in something, or don’t know the “Why” behind it, determination and skill will only get you so far. Your body and mind might be geared up, but if the spirit is dead, results will be mixed at best. Anyone can (and should) get pumped by a challenge to overcome IF they feel some ownership and IF they feel a real potential to succeed. We need to cultivate our thrill factors to keep ourselves involved in the game, so to speak.

How? We need to put it all together.

Yes, here I go again, bringing up that T word: together. But here’s the thing. If I sit on an island alone somewhere, I have that island’s worth of potential success with my own skill, will and thrill. If I look to the world, though, I have the WORLD of skills to tap into. I have the WORLD of wills to help support my efforts. I have the WORLD of thrills to witness and experience. And they have mine.

Which could have a bigger or better outcome?

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