The value of patience

Often you will hear people decry that they are no good with numbers, as if it excuses a lack of effort by confusing it with predetermined inability. Is there really an inborn inability to deal with numbers? We also hear misguided generalisms such as one being better with words than with numbers, as if the skills of language and mathematics cannot exist together side by side. But there really is no lack of understanding, it is more a lack of effort. And when I state a lack of effort, I don’t mean a lack of effort at working hard, I mean the lack of effort at patience and understanding.

When we attempt a new skill, we are more than likely not going to get it right the first time. If we do, then that skill was probably not that difficult in the first place and we would have actually not even considered it a new skill to begin with. After all, a skill implies something that requires some form of sustained effort to master. It is unlike you could play the piano to a good standard without even having touched it before. Piano playing is a skill. But you could play the piano because you have mastered another instrument like the flute, and the crossover in musical knowledge allows you to attain a good entry level at the piano in a short attempt.

When we try something new without any previous overlap, we will make mistakes and not get it right. And this is where the patience comes in. We need to focus less on the end product and think about how we can achieve it. Often the realisation that one has to devote time and effort to get to that stage puts people off, because they realise they don’t have the patience to work at it, or the patience to try slowly. They are willing to do repetitions of an activity, but not patient enough to analyse if the activity is of value to warrant the time in it.

Learning a musical instrument can be a good way of teaching this kind of patience. With a keyboard instrument, you get the instant gratification of multiple sounds, and the realisation that if you are patient enough to work at it you can produce something quite good. And if you live in the Harringay area, why not get in touch with a piano teacher in N15? You learn songs you like, while developing the patience at getting better!