If I try really hard, I can recall this vague feeling from when I was younger… Almost obsessively, I would ruminate on what it must feel like to be truly excellent at something. Imagine you are Michelangelo or Michael Jordan, it doesn’t particularly matter. But what does matter is that you are at the pinnacle of your profession, your vocation. You are a combination of grace, strength, experience and cunning, like few living.
But instead of trying to place myself in their skin at times of ultimate triumph, I would try to imagine their life at the quiet, mundane moments. What does Michelangelo have for breakfast? How does he lift his spoon/fork? Walk to the front door? Put on his shoes? Can I spot the source of his strength in the way he ties his boots?
My suspicion was that I could learn more about the source of their excellence in the daily, unassuming acts than in their most public performances. Thinking about it now, I believe I was quietly burrowing into an insight I did not encounter elsewhere at that time. Instead of believing achievement to be found in innate talent, I believed it to be found in repeated attention, practice and effort. I did not, and do not, believe they were in possession of a divine gift. They instead were masters of their craft though an attention and care few others could comprehend. It was not a divine spark separating them from mere mortals, but a practiced investment of effort that few were willing to invest.