"Slow and steady wins the race" is a rather famous proverb that has gone onto cliche status. Its said and said and said, but in a moment of understanding, I think I'm getting the deeper meaning of it. "Slow and steady" might be more accurately phrased, "patient and disciplined."
For instance, right now I'm starting a very basic calisthenics program. The book warns about skipping ahead because you'll lack the necessary foundation for later exercises and programs. Is that necessary? Yes, I think it was a well needed part of the book. Its so simple and "easy" that the temptation to skip ahead is definitely there. Could I? To an extent. However, since I'm basically starting from scratch, its actually a very poor idea.
The last time I got injured doing any sort of exercise it was because I skipped ahead. I hadn't worked out in a while, and went back to about where I was before rather than starting at a lower-level. Well, guess what? I pinched a nerve because I didn't have the strength to perform the exercise correctly. I spent over a week in excruciating pain, requiring medicating along with physical therapy, and that pain lingered for months after as my right arm was of limited use.
Overtraining, and the injuries it can bring, provides a good lesson for life.
Looking back at other past activities and failures, it seems to be an annoyingly common pattern. Going in with gusto, only to burn out later on. From exercise to diet to (re)learning Japanese and trying to learn new things, going fast and passionately doesn't last long. Infatuation doesn't keep you going when the going gets tough.
The discipline to keep with things, to have the patience to progress as slowly as you need to, are two vastly underrated tools in my life. And as such, two rather underdeveloped ones at that. But, well, at least now I can ponder what I'm doing a bit better. And its all thanks to a realization brought about from a calisthenics book.