“We often expect progress to be linear. At the very least, we hope it will come quickly. In reality, the results of our efforts are often delayed. It is not until months or years later that we realize the true value of the previous work we have done. This can result in a “valley of disappointment” where people feel discouraged after putting in weeks or months of hard work without experiencing any results. However, this work was not wasted. It was simply being stored. It is not until much later that the full value of previous efforts is revealed.”
The Expectancy Curve
In James Clear’s fantastic book Atomic Habits, he explains the idea of the expectancy curve. I think it’s a great tool to overcome imposter syndrome or any other form of the attack. The expectancy curve helps us keep going by giving us a frame to understand our insufficiencies.
Whenever we learn something new, we expect our progress to follow a straight line but in reality our progress is more parabolic. This results in a period of time when we are performing at a lower level than we’re expecting. This time period is called The Valley of Disappointment and it’s duration depends on the skill and how much deliberate practice we choose to put in.
When we feel like we’re underperforming, it’s easy to feel like we aren’t “meant” to do that new thing but all we need to do is stick with our newfound skill until we reach the critical point. The critical point is where the level of our skill matches our expectations. When we reach the critical point we stop suffering from imposter syndrome, feel more confident in our abilities, and (most importantly) keep developing our skills.
Most people stop cultivating their skills when they’re in the valley of disappointment but the ones who make it to the critical point can start to reap the benefits of their faith, consistency, and hard work.
I’ve seen this play out in a number of skills but I found this especially true in music production, hurdling, and cooking.
It can take weeks, months, or even years to get to the critical point. When I first took up music production, I was told that I would have to practice producing for 5 years before I would be able to compose, mix, and master a song from start to finish.
This was me kind of understanding The Expectancy Curve and The Valley of Disappointment years before I could articulate it. The idea of The Valley of Disappointment and taking 5 years before I could complete a song gave me a longer time frame for proficiency. This longer time frame is what made it easier for me to cut myself some slack. That freedom to make mistakes helped me grow. I always thought that made me a little insane but [Kobe Bryant] talks about having the freedom to make mistakes and how that leads to accelerated growth too.
This isn’t to say that The Valley of Disappointment isn’t a tough place to be. It’s easy to think all the work we’re putting in is futile and insane but it isn’t. The work we put in while we’re in the valley is exactly what gives us the ability to move out of it and enjoy the fruits of our labor later on. Deliberate practice is never wasted effort. Our efforts compound over time and this is especially true with skill development.
It’s difficult to move past The Valley of Disappointment but I do think as we learn more we find peace in our insufficiencies. The more I learned about music production, the more I realized that the experienced producers who said music production had a 5 year valley of disappointment were right. The more I learned, the more I realized how much I didn’t know. (Which totally applies to everything btw)
“Be not afraid of going slowly; be afraid only of standing still.”
The whole idea is to stick with things for a while. Ask people in the field how long it took them to feel comfortable and confident in their position. I remember an ER doc saying it took him 10 years before he felt like he reach his critical point. Proficiency take time.
I find that knowing The Valley of Disappointment exists helps me get through it. The upset is temporary and I know I’m right around the corner from being a badass.
“The principle goal of education in the schools should be creating men and women who are capable of doing new things, not simply repeating what other generations have done; men and women who are creative, inventive and discoverers, who can be critical and verify, and not accept, everything they are offered.”
Jean Piaget (1896 -1980 )
Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development
The Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD) is a concept developed by soviet Psychologist Lev Vygotsky. The ZPD is the difference between what someone can do and what they cannot do. In this zone, the person can learn new skills with aid from someone more experienced. To make things easier, let’s refer to the person learning as the “child” and the person giving aid as the “adult.” However, the ZPD does not necessarily only apply to children. It applies to anyone learning something new.
The ZPD changes for each individual and as the domain of unaided skills increases so does the ZPD and the domain of skills that cannot be done decreases.
Piaget and Constructivism
Jean Piaget was a famous Swiss developmental psychologist who was best known for his work in genetic epistemology and constructivism. I highly recommend looking into his work if you work or spend lots of time with kids. Piaget believed that people build new representations of the world on top of their preexisting knowledge in which the new interpretation would incorporate the old interpretation. This is the basis of constructivism.
I like to look at it like this – we can use a bronze axe to chop down a tree, but over time we changed the bronze to steel, and eventually we replace the axe with a power saw. Each of these tools can still cut the tree down but over time the tools we use to get the job done become more comprehensive, efficient, and effective. The same goes for our ways of interpreting the world. When we’re young, we see things a certain way and as we get older we learn new things which explain everything we understood before and more!
The same thing happens in science as well. Isaac Newton founded an entire field of study known as Newtonian physics and it explains so much of what happen in the material objective world but it was unable to explain a few things like how light seemed to travel the same speed no matter which way it was pointing. Over time, a little German boy named Albert Einstein came up with his Theory of Relativity and blew out the doors in the world of physics. Now, Newtonian physics is a subset of Einsteinian physics. Einstein’s theories explain everything Newton was able to explain plus more and this is exactly how we build our own understandings of the world.
Piaget’s constructivist theory works in tandem with Vygotsky’s ZPD theory. We start off with understanding very little but that helps us expand our understanding and this is useful because the world we live in is infinitely complicated and we don’t know very much about the absolute state of being so we need to be able to constantly update our perceptual systems. We can get this updated information through mentorship (we can find the answers ourselves but we make much more progress with mentors), asking the right questions, exploration, and play.
Build a Panel of Mentors
In Game of Thrones, (and in many historical monarchies as well) the king had a small council to advise him on matters outside his expertise. I fell in love with this idea but I found myself frustrated of the king’s small council. I wouldn’t have filled my council with tyrannical sociopaths but with mentors and other people that I look up to. We should all strive to build a small council of mentors.
Building a small council, reading books, taking time to cultivate ourselves will help us expand our domains of unaided skills. When I first graduated from college, I felt ill equipped to handle the world and I knew I needed to learn new things. At the time, I didn’t have a traditional mentor or someone to model myself after but that doesn’t mean I couldn’t keep growing.
I found the works of incredible people and they acted as my guide when I found myself in pitfalls or moments of confusion. These people included Jordan Peterson, Tim Ferriss, Robert Greene, Seneca, and many others. I highly recommend building your own personal panel of advisors. It’s great if you can have one in person, but if you don’t have immediate access to mentors then check out the works of the people that you would like to have advise you. I recommend creating a balanced panel in terms of personal specialty. I believe different people do better in different situations and the panel should be diverse enough to have strengths in all situations. Each person has their own strengths and weaknesses, and a balanced panel’s member’s strengths should compliment the weaknesses of the others. What Seneca lacks in 21st century technology knowledge, Tim Ferriss provides in just 1 book. What Tim lacks in timeless wisdom, Seneca provides in just 1 book. Both of them on my panel ensures I have the best of both worlds.
Stand on the shoulders of giants. Create a mastermind of the best people you can imagine and make that team unstoppable.
Everything you need to learn to be an excellent and whatever you want is within your ZPD. Here is a list of difficult skills that, if developed properly, pay off for the rest of your life:
Life long learning and skill acquisition
Silencing your inner critic
Learning to say no
These are great starting points if you aren’t sure which skills are worth developing. Honestly though, developing yourself in all of these things will take a lifetime, so I recommend finding which skills are most relevant to you and prioritize accordingly. I talk more about this in my post The 20 Hour Rule and Metaskills.
Developing ourselves is a huge undertaking and requires a bunch of effort, but what else do we have better to do? If we’re better people, we do better, and we cannot fathom the reach of our actions.
“The whole law of human existence consists in nothing other than a man’s always being able to bow before the immeasurably great. If people are deprived of the immeasurably great, they will not live and will die in despair. The immeasurable and infinite are as necessary for man as the small planet he inhabits.”
Fyodor Dostoyevsky (1821 – 1881)
It seems as if
having a definitive purpose can have tremendous benefits, but how do we know what our purpose even is?
The following are three strategies that I have used to develop a strong and authentic purpose that serve as my foundational context:
Reflecting on My Interests
I try to pay attention to the things that I’m interested in. Our interests are often unique and the origins of their magnetic pull are hard to explain. I believe that our life purpose – the mission we take on to offset the inherent suffering of life – is hidden within our unique interests. Robert Greene refers to these unique interests as inclinations in his book Mastery.
When we are young this mysterious force is strongest, but as we get older we tend to drown out this force with practical nonsense and delude ourselves into thinking that something else is our purpose. I try to pay attention to the times when I lose myself in an activity or lose track of time because these are the things that are connected to my life’s purpose. I love learning. I love helping people learn. I love being creative. I love helping others be creative. I wouldn’t have known these things about myself if I never paid attention to what specifically I am interested in.
Letting Myself Get Lost
It may be cheesy when people say they have to “find themselves,” but I believe there’s some truth to that. Once we find ourselves and our purpose, life becomes easier and pursuing goals becomes exciting, especially with clarity. But in order to find ourselves, we must first get lost. People tend to hate relinquishing control, but I suggest to aim to lose control and pay keen attention to the kinds of things you think about. Get lost with the intention of finding something new within yourself.
Letting yourself get lost could also play a double meaning. Whenever I notice that I’m losing myself in my work, I keep riding that momentum. Nothing is more important than doing the work that we feel we are made to do, and losing ourselves in our work is a sign that we are doing that.
Seek Out Resistance
Training myself in many different skills was one of the best ways to finding my purpose because once I was competent in these skills, I was able to use them in creative and unique ways. I believe that this uniquely expressed creativity is where purpose is found. The only problem is…
it’s painful to learn something new.
We love to avoid pain and discomfort, but on the flipside we can find great accomplishment and fresh perspectives when we are learning. Where we find resistance is where we can learn something new, and where we learn something new is where we can create something amazing for the world.
“Man would rather have the void as purpose than be void of purpose.”
Friedrich Nietzsche (1844 – 1900)
With our frantic need for purpose, it’s easy to align ourselves with a purpose that would cause more harm than good. I like to refer to these as false purposes. False purposes are incredible attractive but centering our lives around these things tend to create more problems than their worth. Chasing false purpose will drag you down. Not only will your goals not be accomplished, you will have a much harder time trying to bring these “purposes” into fruition. In my own experience, whenever I chased down a false purpose, I never got what I was after and I was often left feeling insatiable. Here’s a few examples of false purposes that I’ve chased and determined are not worth the trouble:
Money: whenever I chase money, I end up feeling more broke. Plus, if I do reach my financial goal, I have a bad habit of moving the goal post. Money comes and goes, chasing money is like chasing the wind. It’s always relative and you will always want more. I promise.
Unjust reward: this takes the form of gaining something for nothing, or gaining more than the work put in. I’d be lying if I said I never tried to do this. It’s simple, you reap what you sow. Rarely do we ever receive more than we give and it would be foolish to center our lives around this uncommon exchange.
Vanity& Egotism: the more I make myself the center of attention, the more pressure I feel to achieve at a high level. At first, this doesn’t seem like a bad thing, but the trouble starts when I don’t achieve at the level I expect. My identity gets tied up with how I perform and that’s a slippery slope to Hell. This also goes for looks too. Chasing good looks is fleeting and futile, I never feel good about myself when my main objective is to look good.
Absolute Power Over Others: chasing absolute power makes me hyper aware of the power imbalances in all my relationships. Sometimes I have more power and sometimes someone else does. The problem arises from when the other person has power over me – if absolute power over others were my main purpose, then this person is a direct obstacle to my goals. Rather than trying to shoot for absolute power, I found it better to recognize my position in each relationship and finding the ways I can leverage someone else’s power to my benefit.
Intoxicants and Other Drugs: you can chase a high for a lifetime. They really do feel that good. Pursuing intoxicants or other drugs is like applying a compressor to your emotional state. It brings the both lows up and the highs down to a middle hum that isn’t too bad or too good either. Chasing the high makes the low feel better, but it’s a short term strategy. Plus it makes the highs feel like any other day. Chase intoxicants and watch everything start becoming a 7/10. Finally got that dream job. Eh. Got married. Eh. Birth of your first child. Eh. The choice is yours.
Immortality: the fear of death is natural, but for me the fear of being forgotten haunts me more. The idea that the universe will move on as if I never existed really messes me up sometimes, but to deny this fact and chase it away is a denial of life itself. Life is finite and that’s what makes it beautiful. Instead of chasing immortality, I’ve chosen to make as much of an impact with my creative endeavours instead. By focusing on being creative, I create something that takes on a life of its own and can live on once I’m gone and that new living being gets to influence others (hopefully in a positive way).
Being the Hero/Heroine: “I would have been totally screwed if it wasn’t for you” is a phrase I secretly love to hear. Being a hero is a fantastic feeling but I wouldn’t recommend trying to be a hero all the time. By focusing on saving humanity, I found myself focusing on problems and no solutions. Additionally, when other people ended up playing a pivotal role in solving problems, I wasn’t happy with the outcome because I wasn’t the one who fixed everything. I should have been happy that the problem was solved and everyone is moving forward, but instead I was bitter and resentful that I wasn’t the hero. How narcissistic. Making this your purpose is perfect for developing a messiah complex.
Pleasure: Hedonism. I was a devout hedonist in college. It’s easy to believe that life is for pleasure. It’s easy to believe that there are only peak moments and the moments you spend in pursuit of the pleasure. In Pinocchio, Pinocchio was in the pursuit of being a real boy, but in the process he lost sight of his goals and found himself on pleasure island. On pleasure island, Pinocchio ends up getting sold to the salt mines where him and the other misfit toys are subject to misery and sacrifice with no payoff. I believe that life works a lot like that. We pursue something and in that pursuit we seek short-term pleasure to get us by. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying life, but losing the ability to sacrifice the present for the future and prioritizing present pleasure over future benefit is a perfect way to end up in the salt mines of life. Seeking pleasure first will drag you down. It took me years to reverse my hedonistic tendencies.
Attention: Focusing on getting the attention of others is fleeting and it’s something that we would always have to be striving for. When this was my main focus, I never had a chance to look inwards. I was never able to see the things within myself that no one could take away, the things that I could cultivate, the things that I could bring wherever I went regardless of circumstance. When I decided to let go of attention as a main goal, I had the beautiful opportunity to get to know myself and as a result, I ended up getting more attention from people because I was interesting. Everyone loves people that can bring something to the table.
This is not a list of things to stay away from. These are just some things that can be mistaken for our main purpose in life. All of the desirables on this list can be obtained as a byproduct of aiming at our true purpose.
Take the time to find why getting up in the morning is worthwhile. The world is not short of reasons to live, it is up to us to find them.
It took me about 3 years before my scheduling skills were good enough to actually rely on my calendar. Today, scheduling is an integral part of my daily life and it’s a skill I’m happy I decided to take some time to develop. With better scheduling came better performances at work and school, plus I was forgetting less and never double booking myself. Here are 5 tips from my years of practice.
A few lessons from years of experimentation and research…
Start by Scheduling High Priority Events First
When I build a schedule, I start by scheduling the highest priority events first. This ensures that I have enough time to get the important stuff done. Everything else comes after. If I didn’t know what to schedule first, I would take some time to reflect on what I would be proud of accomplishing by the end of the day. The famous business consultant, Jim Collins, says “If you have more than three priorities you have no priorities.” Get clear if you aren’t. Open a fresh schedule and start with the important things. During my semesters sessions in college, I’d make sure I would schedule my classes first. Nowadays, when I’m building a new schedule I start with my work schedule on the ambulance since it’s the least flexible commitment I have.
Plan Everything to the End
I cannot even begin to express the amount of half-baked plans that have ruined otherwise great days. From not studying everything I should for my exams to wasting time being bored with my friends, not planning to the end has totally blindsided me time after time.
Robert Greene talks about the utility in planning to the end in his book The 48 Laws of Power, which is on my Must Read List. It’s Law 29 and I highly suggest checking out the whole book, at least that chapter.
It really would have helped if I took the extra 5 to 10 minutes (or even 40 minutes) to bring my plan all the way rather than complacently telling myself “ah, this is good enough.” Planning everything to the end helps with managing overwhelm and gives you a clear finish line. Just the planning to the end in itself (not even executing your plan) is a great exercise in patience and foresight.
Immediately Schedule when a Task will be Done
And by immediately I mean right when you find out you have to do it, schedule it. I like to put it down in some free space for then readjust it to a more reasonable spot once I get a free moment. If done properly, this prevents me from forgetting the little things that slip through the cracks. And as long as I maintain integrity within my calendar, I can consider that task already done. Honestly, I probably open my calendar app more than any other app!
This really helped in college when I was drowning from the flood of assignments. I would always ask myself “Where am I going to find the time to do all of this?” As long as I scheduled something in my calendar, and I knew myself as the kind of person that follows through on my commitments, then I didn’t have to worry about how or when this was going to get done. This little tweak helped me be more present, which allowed me to perform better in classes and have more fun when I was enjoying my leisure time.
Be as Specific as Possible
Set up a time AND place. Be as specific as possible. Leave nothing up to choice when you schedule something. I find that having to make decisions increases resistance.
For example, if I wanted to study I am going to
schedule a time I am going to start and stop
decide which library to go to
which chair to sit in
which back-up chair to sit in
which subject to study.
When you schedule something, do yourself a favor and make as many of the decisions early on as possible so it can be an effortless process when you’re on the go.
I want to leave as little decisions for Future Chris as possible because he will do anything he can to wiggle out of a less than ideal situation.
Best selling author and social psychologist researcher Heidi Grant Halvorson argues, it is not enough just to articulate what needs doing, it also requires clearly laying out what needs to be done, by who and by when. This is know as If-Then Planning. Halvorson also makes many decisions early on too. Planning the choices that I make has saved me tons of time! This is a huge secret for getting myself to do what I say I’m going to do.
Schedule Entropy Management & Downtime
First, let’s learn a little bit about thermodynamics. There are three (kinda four) main laws of thermodynamics, but we’re just going to focus on the 2nd law for now.
The 2nd Law of Thermodynamics states that the entropy of the universe, if viewed as an isolated system, increases over time.
So what’s entropy?
Entropy – en·tro·py /ˈentrəpē/ – noun – lack of order or predictability.
The first time I heard of entropy was during the thermodynamics unit in my AP chemistry class. Actually, I was absent that day and my classmate, Matt, explained it to me. He told me the easiest way to think about it is as a measure of randomness. The more entropy there is, the crazier things are. I think its so funny that there’s a way to measure how chaotic something is.
So what does this all mean?
It means everything gets more chaotic over time. This applies to your calendars, finances, grades, anything. Don’t believe me? Just watch what happens to your room if you don’t clean it for a year. You could neglect anything for a month and watch entropy increase indiscriminately.
The natural state of things is that they decay and become more entropic. It is not the default state for things to get better, or ever work properly. So we have to actively maintain the entropic growth that naturally occur in our calendars.
How do we stop our lives from getting too chaotic?
The best way to manage the chaos is to schedule time to manage it. Since we are aware that things get more chaotic over time, we know that we have to set aside time to restore order.
I literally schedule time in my calendar to clean up any of the inaccuracies or mistakes in my calendar. Just like when we have to do our laundry, clean our rooms, or take showers, we need to set time aside to clean up our calendar so it can help us. I like to schedule in an entropy management (EM) session at least once every two weeks.
Sometimes I have longer time periods when I don’t have an EM session but then I notice my life starts feeling more stressful.
Some quintessential signs that I needed an EM sesh were:
feeling like I didn’t have enough time to do everything I wanted
accidentally double booking myself or miss appointments
forgetting to do my assignments
feeling spread too thin
feeling like I’m reaching my limits
Scheduling downtime is a concept for the people, like me, who get so excited when working on something that they forget to attend to their other responsibilities. Honestly, sometimes I forget to eat, sleep, or even go to the bathroom when I’m pulled into my zone.
Downtime is a time of inactivity or reduced activity in order to recover and allow better performance for the primary function.
Sleep is a fantastic example of downtime in nature. Our bodies have to rest for roughly 8 hours a day to function properly. There have been plenty of studies done that explain how terrible losing sleep is for us. Creativity is one of the first things to go when we don’t allow ourselves time to rejuvenate, and when we lose creativity, we lose our ability to problem solve. If you are interested in how sleep affects us, I highly recommend checking out Dr. Matthew Walker’s research on sleep. It’s alarming to say the least.
I schedule downtime every single day. I usually have my downtime at the end of the day (after 10pm), but sometimes I’ll take a few moments throughout my day if things run a little ahead of schedule. I like to give myself some contingency time in between my scheduled events. I simply leave an extra 15 (sometimes 30) minutes in between some of the events just account for this.
I’m not as efficient, but it takes real life into account. Sometimes things run a little longer than expected or shit happens and we will need that extra time to make up for it.
Plus, if we don’t have a few extra minutes to enjoy a beautiful moment in our lives, then do we really have a life at all?
This is a skill like everything else and takes a while to become proficient. Remember, it took me 3 years before I could really count on my scheduling skills. The first 3 years were months of me making mistakes and figuring out what works best for me. I’m still tweaking things and developing myself in this skill every day and every day that I do, I am making my life a little easier in the future. Scheduling is for everyone, we just need to figure out what works best for us as individuals.
“You realize that you will never be the best-looking person in the room. You’ll never be the smartest person in the room. You’ll never be the most educated, the most well-versed. You can never compete on those levels. But what you can always compete on, the true egalitarian aspect to success, is hard work. You can always work harder than the next guy.”
Casey Neistat (1981- )
Beginner’s luck — it’s totally a thing. There’s actually an entire pathway that illustrates our levels of competence when we learn a new skill. This pathway easily explains the stages from day 1 to total mastery, TheTransition Curve was developed as a result from a study at Cranfield University School of Management.
The study suggests that the transition curve can be applied to the individual and organizational level. So people and companies would follow something similar to this pathway whenever they are learning something new.
The transition curve shows competence and confidence levels over time. This is scientific evidence for the idea that:
At first you’re going to stuck, but if you keep practicing you will get better.
or the age old dictum:
Practice makes perfect.
I found that this curve to be pretty accurate with my own personal experience too. I’ve gone through these stages with multiple skills. It was true when I was learning how to play the guitar, bass, drums, ukulele, produce music, tutor, write, drive, be an EMT…you name it.
The Stages of Transition
When we are first introduced to a new activity we are shocked that we encounter something that we are unable to do. It sounds arrogant, but it’s true. It’s surprising to encounter something that we don’t know how to handle. Check out the slight dip that happens right at the beginning of the curve. That’s from the shock. We usually start off decent at most skills, but the shock from being confronted by unexpected circumstances throws us off our game a little bit.
Note – the more unexpected the new skill or circumstance the larger the initial dip in competence
I like to think that we’re pretty tough cookies, and it’s true because most people don’t usually quit during this stage.
We deny that we’re bad at something and it actually makes us perform a little better but eventually our delusions get the better of us and our competence starts to decline.
Barring the incredibly few exceptions — without hours of deliberate practice and mistakes, we cannot be highly competent at anything. Any skill worth mastering will be difficult and anything difficult will take time to master.Do not let the guise of a slight short term improvement delude you into thinking that you have mastered something.
Awareness of Incompetence
Awareness of our incompetence starts to dig at us. Our confidence and competence plummets. We start feeling worse and worse about our abilities. This is where most people will get trapped and stop practicing a skill. This is where the quitters get off the train.
This stage is where all the convincing excuses will come up. “I’m not a ___ person anyway.” “This is way too hard.” “This is pointless.” “I’m too busy for this.” The list is endless.
I think the best way to get through this stage is to know that difficult times are coming and they will pass. Keep practicing and remember that every urge to quit is just a trap preventing us from learning something new.
Once we’ve hit rock bottom, we finally accept that we don’t know how to do this. This allows us to learn as much as we can about it with minimal egoic resistance. This can be a brutal place. Rock bottom is lovely for our growth and development but it feels terrible when we are there and is often hard to recognize too. So that leads me to the question:
Why do we have to reach rock bottom before we start getting better?
There are many reasons. One is to breakdown the ego which can prevent us from taking in new information. Another is because we don’t understand the dangers of our actions. Rock bottom is a natural place, so don’t be spooked once you’re there. We can try to avoid it, but true mastery comes after we’ve risen from the ashes.
I believe some of the lessons to be learned from hitting rock bottom are:
there are so many that they need their own blog post…
It’s one thing to read about these lessons or keep them in mind for others, but it is another thing entirely to internalize these lessons from life experience. Go out and make mistakes. Learn as much as you can.
This is when we start applying the new things we learn, smoothing out the rough edges, and learning from our mistakes. We start to see the big things that we do which prevent us from being competent and correct them accordingly. We start to toss out techniques or perspectives only held by novices.
If we are tenacious enough to get to this stage, then us could consider ourselves “official” students of the craft. We’ll experience the most growth and strength from this stage and the next. According to Nietzsche, “People do not seek pleasure and avoid displeasure. People seek more power and in the will of that seek resistance. For aiming at a lofty goal and being thwarted in that pursuit builds strength within us.” When we see our actions move us towards a goal we feel happy, but we feel even better when we meet resistance while trying to reach that goal. This stage is filled with opportunities for that level of growth. Our competence is really low here but we feel pretty good striving to be better.
Search for Meaning
Once we get decent at this skill, we start to dissect why certain methods work and others do not. All the hours of trial and error, along with the deliberate practice, gives us a clearer understanding of how to be competent. We use multiple perspectives and experiences to synthesize our results and draw conclusions as to why certain techniques work. Now, we can really develop ourselves strategically within a skill.
Once we know why we are doing something, we are able to apply our knowledge in various situations. My girlfriend tells me that’s what real intelligence is — the ability to apply knowledge in different situations. In terms of The Transition Curve, this stage is a fun place to be.
In this stage, we have found ways to weave this skill into our everyday lives. We take our competence (consequently raising our confidence) to a place higher than ever when we internalize the knowledge and skills required for mastery. A thorough understanding of strategies, hours of deliberate practice, and a steady foundation of the fundamentals can take us here. This is the ideal stage and where we want to be with everything we learn. It’s the best place to work from. Your skill takes less energy to execute and you are able to maneuver well through complication situations.
So what does this all mean?
There are stages to learning something new, similar to grief or change. These stages are temporary and will pass with dedicated practice and a rigorous commitment to learning.
Learning about The Transition Curve has helped me get some clarity around why I felt like I was on a rollercoaster every time I was learning something new.
Know the tough times are coming. Prepare for them. Meet them with a strong belief in yourself. Work diligently. Master everything.