Some people spend their life working in a cube. George Scholey just made a name for himself by solving them.
Nearly 7,000 of them, to be exact.
That “nearly” is important, by the way. Scholey recently became the world’s new master of the Rubik’s cube by solving 6,931 of the three-dimensional puzzles in 24 hours. That’s enough for a new Guinness world record … but apparently not enough for his own satisfaction.
“Toward the end of the night I saw I was getting closer to 7,000, and I’m a bit annoyed I didn’t get that result,” he told UPI. “But that’s fine.”
If that makes your head ache and your tendonitis flare just thinking about it, you’ve probably got a lot of company. Most of us would be feeling more than “fine” at an achievement like that. Heck, I’d be ecstatic to solve it once. (Word games, I’m good. Tactile games, eep!)
But of course, that’s just it. When you’re familiar with something, you’re never quite satisfied. That’s what pushes some to keep becoming the best … and others to quit before they’ve barely started.
After all, the thing we’re most familiar with – or think we are – is ourselves. Or, more to the point, our limits.
I play a decent piano. My family and friends enjoy hearing it. But when I watch a professional at work, I feel like a kid plinking out “Twinkle, Twinkle.” There’s a gulf between my work and theirs and I’m falling down it like Wile E. Coyote.
Many people have a similar story. It might be the hobbyist painter watching the ease of an expert artist. Or the first-time National Novel Writing Month participant comparing their pages to their favorite author. Or the homeowner who struggles to loosen a bolt watching their handyman neighbor complete a major plumbing renovation.
Mind you, there’s nothing wrong with setting high standards or drawing inspiration from someone better. We can all learn from someone else and use those lessons to improve. But when those glances become a source of intimidation rather than inspiration … well, to quote the old first-grade teacher, that’s when it’s time to keep your eyes on your own work.
You see, we’re going to fail. And we need to get used to it.
That’s not a condemnation, just a fact. Learning requires failure. Most of us don’t get to be Mozart; we have to be bad at something before we get to be good at it. Everybody’s got a different axiom about how long it takes – so many hours, or so many days, or so many attempts – but that basic truth remains the same. Even saying “practice makes perfect” doesn’t really get at it, because the real goal at each step is to be less imperfect than you were before.
And that’s not an easy tightrope to walk. Willing to be imperfect, but not so comfortable as to stop working. Wanting to be better without being crushed by expectations. That’s a puzzle that makes a Rubik’s cube look easy … or even 6,931 of them.
But it can be solved. And the solution will be yours. Not the expert’s. Not your neighbor’s.
That’s encouraging. Frustrating at times, maybe, but encouraging nonetheless.
So keep it up. Because not only are you still learning a skill, you’re still learning yourself. And there’s more to find than you might think.
That’s a pretty “fine” place to be.