May 30, 2024

Once you’ve done something a certain number of times


Nuance is the slight or delicate degree of difference in expression, feeling and opinion.

According to etymologists, the word derives from the term meaning, the different colors of the clouds.

It’s such a beautiful visual, since clouds can move at speeds over a hundred miles an hour and change hues easily.

But all meteorology aside, nuance plays a critical role in the movement of our thinking, too. Because we live in a climate saturated with dogma and fireworks. People have lost their mind about degree, nuance, intention, and many other tenets of rational thinking.

And so, the nuance humbles us. It’s where compassionate lives. Remember, being a human being is a complicated process, and it involves so many little interdependencies among so many variables in dynamic systems.

Without nuance, everything gets oversimplified. The rub about nuance is, the only true way to gain such a sense of degree is through experience. We don’t grasp the nuances until we’ve done it. Each repetition develops a different nuance. Each time we perform an action for the second, third, fifth or hundredth time, we get grounded in the subtle terrain of our own habitat.

All the more reason to have a bias for volume. The more we do, the more we understand what doing means.

It’s like my mentor used to tell me when I first started my career. Scott, you haven’t written enough to know what kind of writer you are.

He was right. The only way to become an authority on the nuances of our own experience is to have done it lots and lots of times. Gladwell’s law states that ten thousand hours is the magic number of greatness, but that might be an oversimplification of how to achieve proficiency.

In my experience, it’s not the hours, it’s the iterations. It’s the number of times you practice starting things, overcoming obstacles, battling inertia and finishing them, that matters.

Think about the math. Would you rather spend ten thousand hours trying to solve a single math equation, or solve ten thousand math equations for an hour apiece? I’d argue the latter path makes your amount nuance increase by an order of magnitude. Once you’ve done something a certain number of times, only you know what to do, based on all of your personal nuances that no one else knows. And that’s a weapon. That’s where real insight and perspective can come from.

Are you an authority on the nuances of your own experience? What if you created your own language to capture the nuance you’re seeing that makes you good at what you do?

It’s loads of fun if you’ve never delved into the process before. I’m reminded of an interview with a famous linguist whose full time job is to construct artificial languages, including full alphabets, vocabularies and grammars, for some of the most popular television shows and movies.

Talk about a guy who understands nuance. His work proves that when you coin a new word, you create a new world.

And the good news is, we don’t have to be trained linguists to do so. Each of us can take our own subtle understanding of all the nuance we’ve experienced and package it into a system. A unique language to capture the nuance we’re seeing that makes us good at what we do.

Everyone can bring nuance to the table. Because everyone has done something ten thousand times. Or even just a thousand times.

Let’s not kill ourselves trying to achieve some magic number to make feel good enough to contribute.

Here’s my recommendation. You already have everything you need. Who you are is enough to get what you want.

Take the training you already have and apply it. Nuance the shit out of it.

Show people the different colors of the clouds, and let the rain come pouring down.

Are you avoiding nuance in exchange for simplicity?