Seth Godin turned me on to a great word: Sprezzatura. Seth writes:

This is an archaic Italian word for being able to do your craft without a lot of visible effort. It’s a combination of elan and grace and class, sort of the opposite of loud grunts while you play tennis or a lot of whining and fuss when you help out a customer.

Many people are unable to put their finger on it, but this is a magnetic trait for many of us. We want our lawyer, dentist and waiter to demonstrate sprezzatura, but of course, not particularly try to. This is one of the secrets of Danny Meyer’s top-rated restaurants in New York. It doesn’t have to be flashy, it doesn’t even have to be the very best there ever was, but sprezzatura is enough to get us to return. As long as this light-footedness is scarce, it will remain valuable.

It takes a lot of hard work and practice to make something look effortless. My yoga instructor makes yoga look effortless – believe me, it’s not. My husband makes drawing caricatures look easy, but if you think it’s just “Make his nose big! Haw haw haw!” then you have no clue what an art form it is. The other day my twelve-year old asked me if driving was easy, which made me turn my focus to something I’ve done pretty much on autopilot for years. When you think about all the things you are watching, listening for, and paying attention to (I can watch for deer and sing Eleanor Rigby badly at the same time!), driving is pretty darn complicated. But to my son, it looks effortless. Yoga is sprezzatura for my teacher, caricature is sprezzatura for my husband, driving is sprezzatura for most of the rest of us.

What do you do that looks effortless? Do you know someone who does something so well, it looks as easy as driving? Do you strive to be sprezzatura?

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