Lazy Luddite Log


Bad for Good

I was remarking recently that pool (aka '8-Ball') was something I enjoy despite my poor performance in it. This to me seems an unusal thing. To my way of thinking it is natural to enjoy things one is good at and to feel the opposite for things one is bad at. However pool is an exception to this.

Just the other day at work I realised that I have another exception to this in answering the phone. Within the context of an office job I think that handling phone calls is the task in which I perform the best. And yet I still always look forward to the end of the call. This partly arises from the satisfaction of having completed the task well but arises much more from the fact that the task is simply over with and I can get back to some other task.

So I like but am bad at pool. And I am good at but dislike handling phone queries. Both these things seem contradictory to me. What am I missing here? Any observations on this one for me? Hey - to help facilitate responses to this entry I may even turn it into a 'meme' - here it is:

Hey Kids New Meme

1. Name something you are good at and enjoy. Do you like it because you are good at it?

2. Name something you are poor at
and do not enjoy. Do you dislike it because you are poor at it?

3. Name something you are poor at
but enjoy. Why do you like it?

4. Name something you are good at
but do not enjoy. Why do you diskike it?

All responses welcome.

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  • Hey,

    I know exactly what you mean. I've got a couple of theories on this myself actually.

    here are my responses first:

    1. Driving- I suppose I like it and as a bi-product I am good at it. At some point I musn't have been great at driving so being good at it is a side effect of enjoying it, regardless of skill

    2. Running- I'm not very good at it and just don't enjoy it- the whole concept of physical exertion for enjoyment is a bit alien :o)I dislike it because I am ill equipped for running and I don't feel I achieve anything from it. I guess frustration at not improving is a part of the non-enjoyment factor.

    3. Playing guitar. I'm new to it and not amazing at it. I forsee that I will be reasonable at some point in the future with enough practice. I enjoy it because I am learning something and making progress and its a generally good pass time

    4. I suppose this is the same as you- my job. I think I'm pretty good at it. I don't neccessarily enjoy it and I think its because its an imposition. I get paid to do it and I can think of other things I would rather do with my time.

    The point I think I am trying to make is that the level of skill prbably doesn't impact the level of enjoyment you can get from something. I reckon that it does definitely enhance enjoyment because you find it less difficult and therefore have to concentrate less on actually doing something and more on actually getting something out of it. If you enjoy something, the more chance you stand of sticking at it for long enough to become good at it. If you do not enjoy something, chances are you persist in doing it in the hope that either you do become good at it or some aspect of it will change so that you can enjoy it. I take calls as well. Its not enjoyable and I look forward to the end of a call. I think its just because its work though!

    By Blogger Joe Lump, At 17 March, 2007  

  • I too enjoy playing pool but am no good at it. I occasionally get these fluke shots that look like they took a lot of skill, but most of the time I hit white balls into pockets or off the table.

    1. Creating things - I enjoy creating and doing things with my hands because I'm good at it, and get better at it because I enjoy doing it.

    2. Trivia - I'm utterly, utterly woeful at trivia and thus hate games of Trivial Pursuit. The only enjoyment I get out of it is laughing at myself, and chatting between rolls of the dice.

    3. Bike Riding - I'm not a great rider, but I still really like riding my bike. I don't know why, but even when I don't enjoy the bits where I'm exhausted and feeling sick from the exertion, I still enjoy the overall experience of having ridden my bike.

    4. Writing essays - I'm good at writing in general, but dislike writing essays very much. I am a horrible procrastinator and can think of all sorts of things I'd rather do than sit down and write an essay. Usually something in the "creating things" category, to bring it all back to the top again.

    And those are my thoughts on this topic.

    By Blogger Erica, At 21 March, 2007  

  • To Joe

    Thanks for the comment Joe and thanks for stopping by. How did you come across my blog?

    The relationship between skill and enjoyment is an interesting one. You say that if you enjoy something you will work at developing the skill. I was more suggesting that if you have the skill (possibly a better term here is 'knack') then you will enjoy the activity and so develop the skill further. I suppose it is a feedback loop but will vary from person to person.

    To Erica

    You have got me thinking more on why I enjoy pool. In pool I can look like I passingly know how to play. My stance and movements will be similar to those of other players. It is only the behavior of the balls that exposes my performance levels in the game. And then the nature of a relaxed game of pool comes into play. Nobody much cares how well you play as it is one of those pasttimes that facilitates spending time together and talking and drinking. It is very different from playing most sports.

    And with work phone calls I enjoy the practice of exchanging both polite conversation and useful information but one is never entirely in control of a phone call with a customer. Things can rapidly take on a life and direction you never intended or expected. They rarely do but there is always that chance. Fortunately for me most of the calls I take at work are from fellow customer service staff in other firms so the levels of professionism are good.

    By Blogger Daniel, At 24 March, 2007  

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