Thursday, February 19, 2015

Intimate Reward

Some things take time. Kids learn slowly. The little emperors are notoriously fussy eaters and take time even to fall in love with the tastes of their mother tongue. Unless we want to live a monotongue life, we need to venture out. We need to train our buds to love the taste of learning.

I am pushing on with my piano learning. I have managed about an hour a day for the last 4 or 5 months. I can now almost play two popular songs so that they sound reasonably musical. I am loving it. Getting passed that first 100 hours so you can taste the juice is a start. That doesn't change the need to put in a proper commitment if you want to keep enjoying it. Flow is a wonderful thing. Flow is something we experience when we are pushing ourselves just outside our comfort zone. Not too far, but just enough so that we are not too stressed to learn. You can over complicate the idea of meditation. Meditation is just the practise of focus and concentration. When you are doing something you love and in that exciting phase of discovery, it is almost impossible for you to think about anything else. The great thing is that flow comes at different stages and in different things for different people. This variety of flow is the engine that drives the world forward.

It isn't all pretty. Flow is paired neatly with purposeful practise. Purposeful practise is the deliberate, regular, conscious attempt to learn. It can be draining. You may need to break it down into small chunks. Malcolm Gladwell popularised the idea of putting in 10,000 hours in order to become world class at something. He was not arguing that these hours could be on automatic pilot. Matthew Syed wrote a book that was a little more explicit about the importance of practise, and what that means. Practise isn't just mindless repetition of the same mistakes. If you can work in a little time every day to edge yourself forward, in a considered fashion, with a purpose in mind - flow will be your reward. Like the handicap system in golf, flow doesn't require you to be world class. Instead it adjusts to your level and incentivizes progress more than any bonus cheque ever could. It is a deeply personal reward system that knows you intimately.

It doesn't need to be hours and hours either. Ask yourself the same thing kids get asked when they get home. 'What did you learn today?'. One thing every day can be enough. Little things add up.

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