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Once I was at this local bar.

And they had this blues band playing.

A local band.

Their guitarist was much better than you'd imagine to see in a small local bar playing up on stage.

The bar could hold maybe 50 people, if it were packed.

But this guy was up there just absolutely shredding.

But he was doing it in a way that indicated he didn't need much of his conscious brain.

Of course, nobody thinks like this.

"Wow, that guy seems to well into the range of unconscious competence!"

But when somebody plays guitar without needing to even open his eyes, just playing by feel, even going off on wild tangents, it's clearly a very high level skill.

My friend made an interesting remark.

"That dude must sleep with his guitar!"

Meaning he must spend a LOT of time with his guitar.


We tend to automatically assume people spend a lot of time practicing when we see them with CERTAIN skills or abilities.

If you saw a guy walking down the street with an eight pack and zero body fat, you'd think he spent a lot of time in the gym.

Or he didn't drink beer or eat cookies.

But for some reason, some skills we don't tend to think of as learned.

We tend to think of them as in-born.

If we assume, first, that ALL SKILLS can be improved, then WHY, specifically, would people assume the opposite?

For example, guys see another guy walk up and effectively talk a girl into feeling happy, outgoing, and attracted.

Most guys don't assume he's spent a lot of time practicing.

Most guys say he's a "natural."

Meaning he just showed up with those skills.

But why don't we see a guy playing guitar and assume he's a natural guitar player?

Why don't we assume that eight-pack-guy was born that way?

Because there is ALWAYS another thought associated with learned skills.

Especially observed learned skills.

We see a guy up on stage, shredding on his guitar.

We assume he spent a lot of time practicing.

We QUICKLY imagine our own, usually subconscious, cost-benefit analysis of US spending that same time practicing.

Meaning we quickly imagine why HE decided to spend all that time practicing, while we didn't.

The answer that generally comes back is we've got better things to do.

We don't WANT to become a literal guitar super hero.

OK, fine.

But why do we label "naturals" as naturals?

Because anything that involves social skills is TERRIFYING.

We don't even like to CONSIDER the idea of practicing and getting better.

But the truth is twofold.

Part one is EVERYTHING is a skill.

EVERYTHING you can do can be improved. 

Usually a lot.

The second part is practicing social skills is not nearly as terrifying as people think.

Quite the opposite.

In fact, if you practice correctly, it's actually pretty boring.

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