The source of "do and then you'll be..."? Looking for suggestions.
August 2, 2012 7:43 PM   Subscribe

The source of "do and then you'll be..."? Looking for suggestions.

I'm looking to get a tattoo (my first!) and would like it to relate, whether symbolically or literally (perhaps a quote), to the idea that if you do something enough, if you put enough time and effort into something, then you will become an expert, so to speak, on that which you place your focus on.

I have a year left of my Ph.D. thesis, and I'm finding myself wracked with low self-esteem when reading others' books or articles. I constantly tell myself "how did they do this? how do they write so eloquently? I will never achieve this. I am such a fake." A friend of mine once related a story to me about a philosopher (if memory serves me correctly) who was asked by a student how he became a philosopher. His answer was something along the lines of "I did and I did and I did, and then I woke up one day and I was."

Does this (albeit mighty vague) story sound familiar to anyone? Could anyone point me to a quote, a book, or a fable that I could draw some inspiration from? I'm also keen on works of art that come to mind as well. I'm open to any and all suggestions! Thank you, MeFites.
posted by hollypolly to Writing & Language (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Fake it till you make it?
posted by Rhaomi at 8:18 PM on August 2, 2012

Aristotle: "We are what we repeatedly do."
posted by katyh at 8:40 PM on August 2, 2012 [4 favorites]

Existence precedes essence.
posted by wdenton at 8:51 PM on August 2, 2012

Can't find a definite source for it but this is usually claimed to be a "Samurai Maxim" or some such:
A man who has attained mastery of an art reveals it in his every action.
posted by XMLicious at 9:02 PM on August 2, 2012

Thank you, thank you, everyone! This is very helpful.
posted by hollypolly at 9:43 PM on August 2, 2012

Try not. Do, or do not. There is no try.

--YODA, Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
posted by likeso at 3:44 AM on August 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

There is an article I read years ago in the Midwest Studies In Philosophy by Fred Dretske which so perfectly captured the way my mind masters a subject that I copied its title, cut it out, and stuck it on my door: "If You Can't Make One, You Don't Know How It Works". That is kind of the contrapositive version of your idea.
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 4:44 AM on August 3, 2012

As Katyh says, Aristotle. The passage I'm aware of is in Nicomachean Ethics, Book 2, Chapter 1 "the virtues we get by first exercising them, as also happens in the case of the arts as well. For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them, e.g. men become builders by building and lyreplayers by playing the lyre; so too we become just by doing just acts, temperate by doing temperate acts, brave by doing brave acts..." and the rest of that chapter. Not very tattoo-friendly though.
posted by Gomoryhu at 5:14 AM on August 3, 2012

10,000 Hours (or maybe the number 10,000 -- Malcolm Gladwell's books The Outliers proposes that it takes 10,000 hours of doing something to become an expert)
posted by jabes at 6:58 AM on August 3, 2012

Relatedly, I think I first heard this from physical trainer Pavel Tsatsouline, but I don't know if it originated with him: "If you want to be able to lift heavy things… lift heavy things."
posted by Lexica at 7:02 PM on August 3, 2012

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