Why Early Success Can Lead to Unhappiness

We all have a natural inclination toward something – whether it’s gardening, music, crafts, carpentry, etc. So, we take off on a quest to get better at that “one thing.” And, depending on our innate abilities in that area, we can get ahead of ourselves and create unintentional unhappiness.

How?

By skipping steps.

The better that you are at something right out of the gate, the more likely you are to try to take shortcuts and avoid nailing the fundamentals before tackling the more advanced.

This, of course, is a form of pride.

After all, “I’m gifted” and “I shouldn’t have to focus on the fundamentals and practice the basics.”

Inevitably what happens is that the lack of attention to the essentials becomes glaringly obvious as you move into more complex work in your field.

Epictetus, a Greek philosopher (50-135 AD), said: “Every great power is dangerous for the beginner.”

He was right.

The biblical prophet Isaiah said it like this:

For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line;

Isa. 28:10

There are building blocks that must be put in place in the right order for us to excel at our craft and, at the same time, build a proper perspective of ourselves within that craft.

If you’ve been given a talent or ability above that which has been distributed to others around you, it can be a dangerous thing.

The trouble with humanity is that we are basically lazy. We want to take the easy way to the top, and if we have a little bit of talent that can garner us quick attention and acclaim, we avoid the hard work of learning step by step.

No matter our talent or natural ability, there is no substitute for putting in the hours, doing the practice, hitting the essentials over and over again until they are second nature to us.

The easiest way for us to be disappointed is to lean too heavily on the praise of friends and family who are “amazed” at how “wonderful” we are in the early stages of learning a skill. Just because you can do something that friends and family can’t, doesn’t make you a genius, it only means that the Creator has given you different abilities than He has given them.

Sure, be grateful for whatever encouragement and praise is offered by others, but don’t allow that praise to puff up your idea of your own abilities to the point that you don’t put in the hard work to perfect your craft.

Until next time, have a happy day.

* I cannot recommend every artist, author, or everything written in every book I mention in my blog. Even a broken clock is right twice a day, and where a person or book is right or makes a good point, I will give credit where credit is due.

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