I am currently reading James Clear’s Atomic Habits and a very interesting idea that he discusses is that top performers across all fields are not necessarily as passionate as people think. Clear argues that top athletes, entrepreneurs and artists are not necessarily more passionate than your average individual they just happen to be better at dealing with the boredom that comes with repeatedly doing something and not being instantly perfect.
From what I can understand, Clear’s argument is that top performers do not necessarily have a capacity to feel more of a positive emotion (passion in this case). Instead, top performers are better at handling negative emotions (boredom). Although he doesn’t cite specific studies for this specific argument, intuitively it does make sense. Intentional repetition is a core component of mastery and everyone is bound to fail repeatedly throughout this process. The only people that stick to something are the ones that are able to look past the boredom of repeatedly trying to achieve something and seeing immediate results.
Much has been written about how we live in an age where you can’t get bored thanks to our access to multiple sources of instant dopamine hits. I wonder how do these tools and services affect the process of top performers? I also wonder if tolerance of boredom is a skill which you can get better at? Like being ok with being bored for extended period of times and not checking your phone. I wonder if there’s any value in that? I might try to conduct some personal experiments and report back with any findings.