Jerry Seinfeld compares realizing you have a talent to someone gifting you a wild horse. If you tame it, your talent will take you places, but if you don’t, in extreme cases it will kill you and in moderate cases, you’ll let it waste away never realizing its potential.
If we want to tame and train our talent, we have to set aside time. We have to commit to practicing and getting better. It takes a system. It takes blocking time for different activities. It takes developing intentional routines to make incremental progress.
Imagine you hired a trainer to help you get in shape. When they got to your house you asked how long the session would be and they said, “Well I don’t know – it’s just open-ended.” That’s torture. It’s not professional. What is professional is saying, “We are doing this from 10-11 on Thursday and tracking your results.”
Likewise, when practicing our work we need to set parameters. A writer doesn’t just write indefinitely all day every day. A ballerina doesn’t just dance 24/7. A pilot doesn’t just “live in the air now.” There are clear demarcation points between doing the thing and doing anything else.
We and our talents need structure to grow. They’re a gift, but we have to train them. Start by setting aside a time block with a definitive beginning, end, and goal. And then, stick to it. We only learn to ride the horse if we put the appropriate time and effort in.
Don’t let it waste away. Don’t let it kill you. Take your talent and put it to good use.
Hear Seinfeld explore this and more on The Tim Ferriss Show Episode #485.