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On significance

November 5, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

I’m listening to Nigel Beale’s interview with Alexander MacLeod, and I’m particularly taken by this:

People who train to run the 1500 in 3:36, they never wonder what life’s about. They have no quest for meaning. They know what’s meaningful, In their world, they know. The day you stop being a 3:38 guy and you become a 3:35 guy, that is a significant day. You need a picture of that day. Phone calls will arrive on that day. Because it means something.

He’s talking about how small things become tremendously significant to specialists. When you care, when you know the difference between 3:38 and 3:35, that tiny difference becomes enormous. Running, I suppose, is good for that. The clock gives you a number by which you can measure success.

Elsewhere, success is perhaps a bit harder to measure. But I think it is probably impossible to become successful at anything without developing that level of care and discovering the smallest of significant differences. It is true, I think, of writing.

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