Regardless of the skills an individual seeks to develop, there are underlying forces which must be harnessed for development to take place. Because modern capitalism is orients our lives around consumption, we are increasingly immersed in excellence, often without noticing. Rather than only seeing the apex of achievement - championships, concerts, innovative products, scientific discovery, works of art, and so on - an observant mind witnesses and explores the nuances of the processes which facilitate these forms of production.
The Prevalence of Collective Achievement - Standing on the Shoulders of Giants
From performances of outstanding athletic feats on television, from fine dining and fresh roasted coffee beans, from concert halls filled with orchestras and large audiences, from projections on the silver screen, from the precision of a surgeon to the industrial processes built to fuel our desires . . . today we are bombarded with images of peak performance, while our basic needs are often met without second thought.
In contrast, think of even 200 years ago, when most of a person's time was spent on raising and preparing food, repairing shelter and clothing. Even simple things like running water and electrical lights were unavailable.
(The success of sports like Formula 1 show how superfluous human achievements are numerous and becoming increasingly complex.)
Technological progress has provided a unique opportunity for us to reach new levels of individual and collective achievement. Indeed, the endless stream of outstanding media we see is living proof that today, our developmental potential has reached levels which are higher than ever before.
Therefore, we can view the prevalence of human achievement as the result of the work of progressive minds throughout the centuries. It is the foundation these millions of people laid which gives many of us the chance to focus, hone, and refine crafts of our choosing.
(Modern manufacturing along with refined craftsmanship allow humans to open new spaces for individual expression and performance.)
The Role of the Individual in Performance
Although it is difficult to overemphasize the importance of our environmental circumstances, the burden of developing and expressing skill falls upon the individual.
Absent the focused and routine effort placed into the development of technique, knowledge, fitness, and craftsmanship, a person's range of expressiveness remains limited. Analysts like Jacques Lacan have shown how human desire is unbounded. It is this inability to accept restraints which drives people to push the limits of their capacity. Through frequent and repetitive practice, humans have the capability to refine skills and achieve new levels of expression.
(The sport of Olympic Weightlifting is an outstanding example of the importance of determination, focus, routine, and discipline in developing skills.)
By dedicating our individual efforts to our passions, we collectively create a world which supports human development.