The Journey to Dating Success

The Journey

There’s no such thing as an overnight success. It’s a big myth. And anyone who tells you otherwise is delusional.

Consider FedEx. You’ve probably heard of them.

In 1965, Fred Smith came up with a concept for an express delivery system while studying at Yale, and in 1971, he founded FedEx. The company started operations in 1973, and during the first 26 months of operations, lost nearly $30 million. One night, after being turned down for capital, Fred impulsively flew to Vegas and won $27,000 playing blackjack, which he used to meet payroll the following Monday.

The company was losing a million dollars a month, yet they continued to grind it out. In 1978, they became a publicly traded company, and in 1983, revenues topped over $1 billion. And in 2013, revenues totaled nearly $45 billion!

This article isn’t a history lesson about one of the most successful delivery services in the world. The point of the FedEx story is that it takes time – often years and years – to find success. This applies to all of life’s endeavors. And this absolutely applies when it comes to getting better with women.

Experience is knowledge, and knowledge is power

We can read all of the dating theory in the world, but without going into the world and practicing, it doesn’t mean much. Books and articles are merely a guide; there’s no substitute for experience, which is rightfully known as the “father of learning.” It’s simple to soak in theory; and we can go on for hours and hours reading useful ideas. But if we’re not applying the theory in real life, then it’s just as simple to forget the ideas we’ve picked up.

Real life experiences make ideas stick. As cliché as it sounds, we must go out and face rejection over and over again. Only then will we start analyzing why we failed. And eventually, we’ll stop making the same mistakes. It’s quite extraordinary how the mind works – when you fail, you (sometimes subconsciously) take steps to make sure it doesn’t happen again. And when we stay stuck in our comfort zones, the gears in our mind slow down and we get complacent.

Look at it this way – imagine that improving your dating skills is analogous to losing weight. Say your goal is to lose twenty pounds. If you’re a beginner, you may start off by reading about how to lose weight. Perhaps you read about nutrition and diet. Perhaps you read about exercise routines. Cool, but are you actually losing weight absorbing all of that knowledge? Probably not.

I’m not discounting that information – it’s useful to know – but it doesn’t mean anything unless you put that knowledge into use and actually start eating the right foods and exercising on a regular basis.

Also, anyone who has lost a significant amount of weight will tell you that it doesn’t happen overnight. Chances are you won’t see results on day one (or even day twenty), but just continuing to work at it will yield noticeable results over time. Once you’ve lost those initial couple of pounds, you have the momentum to continue losing weight.

The same goes for dating and being social. Once you’re out there and start to get tangible results, it becomes easier and easier. Some days, you’ll feel like you’ve hit a plateau. Other days, you’ll set a new personal record. The problem is that some guys initially fail and get so discouraged that they stop. The ones who rise to the top are those who continue to put the effort in – while figuring out what works and what doesn’t work.

Repetition is key (“Confidence is key”)

According to author Malcolm Gladwell, it takes 10,000 hours of practice to master a specific field. To get that number, he looked at many case studies. In one particular study, psychologists in Berlin conducted a research on child violinists.

These child violinists all started around the age of five, and practiced for roughly the same amount of hours until around the age of eight. Then practice patterns started to diverge, and those who grew up to be elite performers averaged over 10,000 hours of practice from age eight to twenty, while those who were less able performers only averaged around 4,000 hours of practice from age eight to twenty.

Even though the “10,000-Hour Rule” has been widely discussed and disputed, we can all agree that we have to devote serious amounts of time if we want to succeed at anything that requires us to use our cognitive abilities.

Think about a professional soccer player. These players have the confidence to pull off tricks or moves because they’ve practiced each individual move hundreds, even thousands, of times. In real game situations, they don’t think twice about executing the move. They just do it. It’s second nature. It’s basically a reflex.

That’s why, to me, “confidence” is not a mystical quality that only certain people possess. It’s also not faking feelings of assuredness. Or acting macho. Faking and acting are temporary fixes, and it’s not actually confidence. Confidence is quite simple – it’s repetition. It’s doing something hundreds or thousands of times so that it becomes second nature.

Dating and meeting women is the same. It’s repetition, just like practicing the violin or perfecting soccer moves. You won’t be confident after practicing just once or twice. It takes serious time, and not necessarily 10,000 hours of practice. You just need consistency. Anyone who’s played instruments or sports knows that you get rusty when you don’t practice on a consistent basis.

And most importantly, you need to have fun. No one practices the violin for 10,000 hours if they’re not enjoying it. No one plays soccer for 10,000 hours if it’s not fun. Yes, meeting women can be nerve-wracking, but logically, it shouldn’t cause more anxiety than playing soccer in front of 100,000 diehard fans. Just relax, and enjoy yourself.

As a kid, I was always impatient. I wanted to be the best at something, and I wanted it right away. But one of the most important things I’ve learned as an adult is that success doesn’t happen overnight.

Success is the culmination of repeating a task countless times. It’s not letting failure prevent you from doing something again. And it’s not stopping once you’ve mastered a task. There’s always room to grow, so go out there and start doing!

Will Legend is a dating columnist and the founder of DecodeHer.

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