On dealing with boredom
In James Clear’s ‘Atomic Habits’, he asks an elite coach what distinguishes the best athletes with everyone else. The coach answers, “At some point it comes down to who can handle the boredom of training every day, doing the same lifts over and over and over.”
It never really struck me that the ability to ‘deal with boredom’ is an important factor to mastery until now. Most of the self-improvement articles I’ve read focuses on traits such as resilience, ambition, authenticity, focus etc, rarely have I read anything about the importance of being able to repeat something over and over, hundreds, thousands of times.
Though the idea of repetition may be more relevant to professionals who need to hone a specific skill, such as athletes, musicians, chefs etc. the ability to sit in boredom, to motivate yourself despite the lack of novelty in a task, is essential for any career. Even the most versatile careers will have a certain level of banality — entrepreneurs may have to sell their ideas to clients countless times, filmmakers spend months, sometimes years cutting a movie, broadcasters spend years honing their style and tone of voice… in order to master something, you need to be able to sit with the boredom of it. You need to consistently show up and do the work, even when you don’t feel like it, even when the novelty washes off.