Virtuosity in Everyday Life

Virtuosity in Everyday Life

Hyannis Life, December 2013

“Do the common uncommonly well.”  In CrossFit this concept, referred to as virtuosity, is harped on and is heard nearly daily in our gym.  You want to squat 500 pounds?  Work on your air squat- that’s right, no barbell, no weight- just you and the air.  Master your footwork, your depth, keeping your core tight, the angle of your legs, keeping your torso upright, the gaze of your eyes- work on perfecting all these minute details of the air squat, and it will pay dividends as you begin to add load.  Try to squat 500 pounds without taking the time to master the air squat, and you will likely encounter some problems.  We see the concept of virtuosity applied in other areas as well, such as with musicians.  The “Rule of 10,000” claims that in order to become a master at something we must spend 10,000 hours of concentrated practice at it.  Much of this practice is spent on perfecting the seemingly little things.  Without mastery of the basics, we cannot move on to greater things.

The concept is simple, and yet the rewards are immense.  Take the time, effort, and energy to continue to develop and master the seemingly “simple” things and it will make you not only virtuous at those simple things, but will allow you to perform better at the more skilled and challenging things as well.  How can we apply this idea of virtuosity to our everyday lives?  Does the principle remain the same that if we “do the common uncommonly well” we will see reward in the greater things in our lives?  I think so.

Each day we encounter so many “common” things that the tendency seems to be to breeze right over them, perhaps not giving them the attention they require.  Virtuosity in everyday life may be as simple as starting with our daily interactions.  How do you address and interact with the people you see daily?  Is it common for you to barely acknowledge a loved one or a co-worker?  What if you took the time to engage them every time you saw them- with eye contact, a smile, or a simple hello?  Surely this “common” practice done better could lead to happier and more fulfilling interactions in the long term, leading to overall more life satisfaction.

What about your job?  Are there tedious tasks that you fail to give proper attention to?  By shirking these smaller things you could be hindering your long-term progress.  As a young business owner I have found that when I am attentive to the seemingly small things, and take the time to handle them with my fullest effort and energies, it pays off in the long term.  Although it may not seem like it at the time, the commitment to taking care of the details helps make the bigger picture run more smoothly and successfully.

When we set high and lofty goals it’s easy to become overwhelmed.  The outcome may seem so far off in the distance that we don’t know where to begin.  Commit to the practice of virtuosity- begin working on the small things, trying to do them to the very best of your ability.  As you gain competence in these things, the next step will naturally appear- and you’ll be ready for it.  As you continue on one step at a time, working towards excellence in the “small” things, you are moving ever closer to your goal.

As we conclude 2013 and look toward the New Year, it’s natural to make big plans and resolutions about how or what we are going to change in our lives.  Although I am a firm believer in dreaming big, I also believe that it is often the attentiveness to the smaller things that allows those dreams to become a reality.  Amidst the holiday parties, presents, and time with family and friends be sure to take care of the little things.

If you are contemplating how to enhance your life in 2014, consider being more attentive to the small details and the commonplace things that we often take for granted.  Do the common uncommonly well.


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