How to do… ANYTHING

I am aware that the title of this piece makes a Bold Claim.

Fear not, it shall deliver.

Whatever you are talking about, whether it be: creating a piece of art, building a global community, mastering a disparate skill, learning a language, cultivating a loving relationship, raising a child, healing one of the world’s ills, or learning how to ride a stunt goat, the underlying principles are the same.  Common threads run thru all these things, and many more.

In this post, I’ll show you what they are…

flt3

Let’s get real for a moment.

‘Talent’ by itself is worth next to nothing.  There are talented people living on the street and eating out of garbage cans right now.  The same is true for passion.  You can be as passionate as you want about something, until it is time to pay rent.

Talent and passion are dwarfed into extinction, beaten hogwild, and trumped beyond measure every single time by doing The Work.

What does ‘doing The Work’ mean?

It means: giving the thing of your choice, your focus, and your love, over time.

Now let me be really, really clear  When I say Focus I mean: one-pointed quality attention.  You can *work* at something for 24 hours a day but, if your mind is forever wandering wandering wandering, all that time spent will probably amount to a big fat nada.  Focus means giving whatever you are doing your best energy, your absolute best self.  And, as well as your focus…

You have to Love whatever it is that you are doing.  You must love it so hard that fetishing it daily, coming back again, and again, and again to pour your very life into it, is a joyous act for you.  Simply wanting the end result does not cut it.  You have to love the process of the work.  Without this love it would be very hard, if not impossible to sustain something over…

Time.

Things grow organically.  It is a law of nature.  Before you plant the seed, the soil must be prepared.  When the seed has been planted it must be tended and watered daily.  If the fruit is not eaten it will go to waste.  Some of these things can be sped up, others cannot be rushed.

Which brings us to an important point.

I don’t believe ‘you can become great at absolutely everything’, and I don’t believe ‘you can have it all’.  Focus and time are finite resources.  ‘Selection’ (meaning: making the core choices about where to spend your time and energy) is an art.  If you are truly focusing on one thing then you are, by definition, cutting off everything else.  Therefore: the amount of things you can build, create, and master are also finite.

This is not a bad thing.

Why?  Because with this realization comes the knowledge that: decisions must be taken and sacrifices must be made in terms of where you spend your time.  There is freedom, joy, and liberation in the making of these choices.

You don’t have to take my word for it, try it for yourself.  Choose your work.  Fetish it with your focus and love over time.

See what happens.


My name is James Radcliffe and I am a 100% audience supported independent artist.  If you like what I do (and can afford it) then please consider buying some of my music.  Each purchase really makes a big difference to me and 10% of every sale goes to a charity which: houses, feeds, clothes, and educates orphaned children in Nepal.

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115 Comments

  1. Super well written post! This: “When I say Focus I mean: one-pointed quality attention…” really resonated with me. Moreover, I’m glad I read it before I start a brand new week! Thanks for sharing this insight 🙂

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  2. Yep. There is an argument somewhere in a book or other study saying that putting the time into something is the key. The geniuses or “skilled” people we know from history for their ‘talent’ (I prefer the term ‘passion’) got there through putting ridiculous effort and time into their work. It’s far less common, almost unrecorded for someone to come up to that greatness by natural talent without the time put in. Thanks for the reminder.

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    1. Anytime my friend.
      You are right of course, this has been well documented in certain texts. Most recently, the ’10’000 hour rule’ in Malcolm Gladwell’s ‘Outliers’, and also in Robert Greene’s ‘Mastery’.
      Thanks for stopping by, hope the day is treating you well,
      – J

      Like

  3. Inspiring! You’re so right, and is not just an art to focus in something, in this contemporany world, full of information and technology (distractors) is more than art to focus, but is not impossible.
    Thankyou!
    P.D., sorry about the grammar and redaction, buy I preffer to try than to say nothing. 🙂

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  4. Absolutely speechless…you dont know thats exactly what i needed.to hear. “How.about do.anything” very prolific and true and yet simple if your mind is already knowing those things. Thank u for that post

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  5. We have had our blog for 2 years but we hardly ever updated. Last year we had 27 times. In the last 2 months we buckled down and have already updated 23 or so times. The results have been great. We are enjoying ourselves and slowly gaining attention. I just imagine what could have been if We had done this for the last 2 years. I use that as motivation to keep trying. Thank you for the reinforcement of what we are doing. And keep up the great work.

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  6. Hi James. That is one killer opening paragraph. And I found myself suddenly wanting to learn to ride a stunt goat. This is, until I read the rest of your piece, and realized I did not have the passion to focus on it over time. Well done, you! And thanks for stopping by my blog too.
    -OM

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    1. 😉
      Thankyou in return, your comment made me smile.
      When I wrote this blog, I had no idea that a stunt goat was a real thing. Apparently, it is.
      I only ask that, if you reconsider your position and do feel compelled to try it, that you send me pictures. 😉
      Yours,
      – J

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Hi James – I like reading your posts. They are not only very well written, but practical and realistic. This sentence, in my opinion, is quite true:” I don’t believe ‘you can become great at absolutely everything’, and I don’t believe ‘you can have it all.” All the best.

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    1. Thankyou very much for your very kind words. 😉
      Yes, I think that the myth of ‘everything’ ends up making people unhappy. I have found that, when I set limitations and really focus on the most important things for me, I am happiest.
      All the best to you, I hope you have a great day,
      – J x

      Like

  8. How true!! Glad you liked my haiku. Even though my book of poetry was published last spring, I never tried haiku until about a month or so ago. What surprises me is its popularity. Whenever I post one on my blog, I get responses. Maybe I should keep it up at least once a week.

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  9. Reblogged this and commented:
    People who have done something in life have done it merely by putting their heart into what they do. They love it and think about it 24×7. They are ready with solutions before problems show up. End result, they reach where they wanted to and very likely, beyond!

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  10. Every day for many years I had the priviledge of taching 5 fith grade English classes. I loved it. I got to retire when I turned fifty and have a very busy life. However, it wasn’t until I started my blog last August that I truly realized my passion for the first time. I know now I will not stop writing until there is no breath left in my body. Great post!!

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  11. hmmm
    if you want to do things, the first crucial thing is the want, not the love passion or talent, it’s the Want that becomes the need and than comes the rest of it…(the love and passion develops later in time when you can appreciate your work)
    If the want leads to the do, than it happens…
    one practiced and honored, any talent has an infinte potential thus leading to more talents… we were born with an infinite potential thus when people say you can do anything, it’s true… keep your mind away from believing barriers exist and you can ultimately find a way around anything
    😉

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  12. So true! You can be talented “all day long,” but if you don’t focus, apply your passion and pinpoint your time to that talent, it will never amount to anything. I have watched people at both ends of this spectrum, and I have seen those who never succeed and waste their talents, and I have seen those who thought they had no talent in the beginning, excel in the area in which they focused and placed their passion. 🙂

    Like

  13. Reblogged this and commented:
    Since it’s Tuesday, here’s a little piece of inspired writing from a fellow blogger. He gives some very good advice on how to make your dreams come true. It’s realistic and foolproof.

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  14. Thank you for these thoughts James. So true to me! I really liked your notion of needing to love the process, not just want the end result. In my life it’s yoga – where the emphasis is always about ‘practice’ because it’s always a work in progress, never finished with a final aim in sight!

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  15. And look! Absolutely nothing of this post dealt with death.. It’s about life… living! About the application of energy, time, dedication, passion and most importantly *BEING* to do what it is you WANT to do.

    As Ben Kenobi once said, “You have taken your first step into a larger world.”

    Now, I ask, was that so hard?

    Like

      1. In all the studies you’ve done, I’m surprised you didn’t study Budai or the Laughing Monks. It’s as essential to one’s wellness and whole-being as the peace that one can attain from Zen.

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  16. Really good points as usual. But I also believe no matter how much you love and how long you focus on your craft, nothing is sealed. Even when it comes to cultivating loving relationships, you could give all you have and still end up unhappy. I believe there is always a “streak of luck” in every accomplishment. Some may call it “the connection of the dots.” The fact remains: one cannot connect all the dots by oneself.

    For us artists, it could be meeting a publisher, a producer, a distributor or a financier. But one is not likely to meet such a person if one doesn’t pause and “zoom out” at the world and maybe hook up with some friends and associates. Sometimes even blunders and stayaways turn out to be just what is needed at the time. Thank you for bringing this up James.

    One other thing, I think, is that one has to always do what he does with a pure heart and the rest will take care of itself.

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    1. I agree with your last point wholeheartedly. In fact, it is why I went to such great pains to stress that you must love the process for the thing itself, and not for the end goal.
      Thanks for dropping by and adding your thoughts.
      Be well,
      – J

      Like

  17. Hi James,
    What a great post. I also like the WAY you explained your meaning to John Love, which you really didn’t have to, but took the time to do so. I think that speaks volumes of your character. I also want to thank you, for reading my blog post. It is appreciated!

    Like

  18. Hey James. I like this post. It rings very true with me. Sometimes it is difficult to master focus but once you find your calling it’s hard to ignore. Plus the more you practice this skill the easier it is to tap into it.

    Like

  19. You have valid points, but you need to be careful with the attention you say is required, attention that precludes all other endeavors. Otherwise you will be successful at your chosen profession, but your family life will suck, so may as well never get one. People in need around you will not be noticed by you, so they will go by the wayside. So you need to do the work, but all consuming in one direction is not the way. You need to set priorities for a well balanced set of goals, then give 100% to your career for the time allotted for example, then be just as determined to cut that off and start, lets say, your commitment to your family with the same zeal. It can be done. If I misunderstood you intent I apologize, I have just seen too many people with too narrow of a view on doing the work. They never seemed happy, just driven, and the people around them were always miserable. The statement, “this is not a bad thing” is what set me off. I’m old, wise, and been there done that!

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    1. Important points indeed.
      That is why I say at the start, ‘whether it be, having a deep relationship with another person, raising a child…’. I am not talking about doing just one thing to the exclusion of all others, what I am saying is that it is important to be aware of the finite nature of your energy, and so to consciously direct it to wherever it is most important to you.
      Thanks for your contribution, glad to meet you,
      – J

      Liked by 1 person

    2. I believe the idea that James presents is true in life. In other blogs he talks about being present and “in the moment”. This is true here as well…

      When you are doing your job to make money, focus on that work… Then, when you go home to your family, focus on your relationships… Finally, after the sun sets, you focus on your passion. It doesn’t need to be done exactly in this order, but this could be an example of one day in the life of an artist. And it can all be managed simultaneously if one is focused and remains present to what matters at that time.

      The dynamic with relationships and artists gets misconstrued often. But I believe the idea James presents actually accounts for what you are questioning. Focus doesn’t mean being a jerk or ignoring others… it’s quite the opposite if you can be present to others around you at work and at play. It can actually help enhance you art.

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  20. Serendipitous … the timing of this post. All makes very good sense to me – PAINFUL part is whittling down the passions if you are passionate about many things. However multiple-finger-pie-dipping does cause stress … I’ll reach the right decision in good time. Glad I read your post. Thank you.

    Like

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