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Modern society perpetuates the illusion that anything can be bought. This is simply not true. Marriages are failing, families are broken and good fitness eludes most adults.
Plastic surgery only buys the illusion of youth. Travelling the world, drinking expensive wine or eating in a fancy restaurant will not produce happiness.
Can money buy: Youth? Love? Compassion? Depth of character? Awareness? Respect? Work/life balance? Grace? Manners? Common sense? Purpose? Integrity? Friends? An open mind? Imagination? Insight? Creativity? Tranquillity? Calm? Stillness? Patience? Happy memories? Elegance? Talent? Wisdom? A sense of humour? Humility? Honour? Selflessness? Clarity? Personality?
'Ability' is one of the things that money really cannot buy. It must be cultivated.
A lot of people still believe in the notion of 'natural talent'. According to scientific research detailed in a number of books published in the 21st Century, there's no such thing...
Ability begets ability
People who excel, do so because they put in more time and commit to greater practice than other people do. They also receive regular feedback, learn from their mistakes and get better (continuously).
Read Grit, Smarter Faster Better, 5 Elements of Effective Thinking and Peak... Find out for yourself through your own experiences.
Culture changes and new technologies are developed continually. Educational methods alter. But skills are still taught the same way. An 'ability' cannot be bought, bullied or faked.
Learning a new language, playing a musical instrument, gourmet cooking, carpentry...etc These are is the product of time, effort and commitment. Hard work alone is not enough, though.
Simply working hard will not necessarily lead to progress. It needs to be deliberate, focused improvement designed to improve your practice by developing key skills outlined by your instructor.
The student must implement corrections, study the recommended books, undertake assignments and challenge their comfort zone.
Learn me it
The funny thing about 'ability' is that it humbles everyone. Nobody can buy skill. Nobody can learn you it.
There is no red carpet, VIP treatment for rich people. You must undertake the same journey as everyone else, and all the money in the world will not change this.
It is tempting to think that we know far more than we do. But this is also naive.
Even a highly qualified university professor knows next to nothing about everything that falls outside their own specific field of expertise.
The Way and It's Power features a simple equation: "if, then". Apply it to learning tai chi... If you pay for a lesson, then you get shown the material.
You get the opportunity to learn, to practice, to acquire the skill. But nothing more.
If you do the work...
If you go home and practice earnestly every day, then the skills will develop. See how simple and unconditional the situation is? There are no shortcuts, no cheats, no scope for fakery.
Your success or failure is your responsibility entirely. Even the most earnest, caring, helpful teacher cannot imbue you with skill.
We get good at what we do
If you want to get good at form, practice form. If you want to become proficient with weapons, then practice with weapons. The more often your body undertakes the practice, the more familiar it will be.
To lift an Autumn hare is no sign of great strength;
to see the sun and moon is no sign of sharp sight;
to hear the noise of thunder is no sign of a quick ear.
What the Ancients called a clever fighter is one who not only wins,
but excels in winning with ease.
Hence his victories bring him neither reputation for wisdom nor credit for courage.
He wins his battles by making no mistakes.
Making no mistakes is what establishes the certainty of victory,
for it means conquering an enemy that is already defeated.
2 March 1995
Last updated 16 June 2023