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Will technology ever catch up?

GTD: How to be an expert

Posted by cascadehush on October 23, 2006

Creating Passionate Users: How to be an expert:

Most of us want to practice the things we’re already good at, and avoid the things we suck at. We stay average or intermediate amateurs forever. Yet the research says that if we were willing to put in more hours, and to use those hours to practice the things that aren’t so fun, we could become good. Great. Potentially brilliant.

One of the key points of this article is that we tend to work on a new skill until we no longer suck, but very often that becomes a comfort zone and so we never progress to true proficiency. The expert is willing to overcome difficulties, progressing to higher levels of ability.

I must say that being an amateur can be fun. I am an amateur inline-skater. This means I don’t fall down, enjoy the exercise and can go or stop without much concentration. I don’t really want to risk the inevitable injuries which would come with any progress to a higher level of expertise.

I am an amateur OSX user and an expert Windows user. I fix PCs for a living and most of it involves lots of time in the deeper bowels of the XP operating system. Frankly I don’t want to know more about OSX than I absolutely have to. I’d rather be productive and learn how the applications work, than worry about the intricacies of the underlying OS.

But on the other hand, I’m learning the flute at the moment. For a number of months I have been content to twiddle around the lower octave using only about 10 notes. This is easy and a nice way to pass half an hour on a Saturday afternoon. But now it’s time to learn all those other notes, and move into the upper octave. It’s hard. It’s like starting all over again. But I have to do it.

I’ve promised myself that if I can learn all the notes properly, then I can buy a Saxophone.

(For those who don’t know instruments, a saxophone costs about 7 times as much as a flute. I’ve always wanted a saxophone, but I’ve forced myself to go through the discipline of learning a comparatively cheep wind instrument first. It’s not an entire waste of time. Much of the fingering is the same, and you get to practice your breathing.)

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2 Responses to “GTD: How to be an expert”

  1. I strongly recommend “Mastery: The Keys to Success and Long-Term Fulfillment” by George Leonard (http://www.amazon.com/Mastery-Success-Long-Term-Fulfillment-Plume/dp/0452267560/sr=1-1/qid=1166484207/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1/104-6686697-6048709?ie=UTF8&s=books). It talks about the levels of mastery for any topic/art/sport, and some of the pitfalls along the way. This includes the amateur stage you mention (called the “Hacker”), along with the “Dabbler” and the “Obsessive.”

    Thanks for the post.

  2. Thanks for the feedback.

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