4 approaches to learning a new discipline

The US Aikido master George Leonard in his book “Mastery” speaks of 4 approaches that we take to learning new disciplines.  It scares me that I might be a regular Hacker…  how to shift my approach and push through “good” and reach “better” and one day “expert”?:

  1. The Dabbler – The Dabbler’s learning curve rises very quickly, meets an obstacle and then drops to zero, since the dabbler gives up the activity and goes on to another; repeating the same curve on different activities.
  2. The Obsessive – The Obsessive’s learning curve rises quickly, meets obstacles, which The Obsessive tackles by redoubling his effort, getting more books and tools and trying to figure out ways to get better results faster and cheaper, and then burns out in a short while when he finds that the curve is not a straight line upwards.
  3. The Hacker – The Hacker’s learning curve rises quickly, meets an obstacle or two and then plateaus out on a straight line. The Hacker doesn’t consider the need for more instruction or rising above that level. He is content with level reached and plans to stay at that level.
  4. The Master – The Master’s learning curve rises quickly, plateaus for a while, and with consistent practice, rises again with some regression and plateaus again for a while and so on. The Master knows that Mastery is a lifetime path. The Master enjoys living on the plateau. The Master knows that while he is on the plateau, learning is happening and practice will inevitably raise him to a higher level.
How do we make the journey of learning a journey towards mastery?  George outlines five keys to mastery:
  1. Instruction – get an instructor.
  2. Practice – learn to love the plateau and practice for the sake of practice.
  3. Surrender – surrender to the learning process and the learning curve.
  4. Intentionality – bring all of your willpower and the mental game to the learning.
  5. The Edge – focus on the fundamentals and the leading-edge.
Have a great weekend.  Looks like spring is here.

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