Special skills (real and imagined) are very attractive. The promise of learning advanced sexual alchemy, shooting Reiki chi from your fingers like a benevolent Yoda, having the ninja death touch or the psychic skills to see what mere mortals cannot – and a host of other things – are seductive.

People can make a lot of money offering such skills, as there’s a huge appetite for them. In my own field, I could make way more money this way.

What I notice in myself though is the urge to learn such skills reeks of ego: the urge to be special, to impress and control others, to be unique. It’s a natural, childish urge to be noteworthy and have power over others … to use magic to be safe and grand. Who doesn’t want to be Harry Potter or Luke Skywalker? But I want to make a case for inclining oneself to the skills of a normal human adult. Simply being competent is challenge enough for a lifetime. This takes a certain honesty and humility.

My real learning edge is things like only eating when hungry and resting when I’m tired. Being nice to customer service people. Listening to my wife. Showing up to work and doing the job well. This is enough.

Not so sexy. Not so good for impressing people … but the real deal. Ordinary competence is the real magic.

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