The Most Important Experience…

One thing I’ve noticed lately is a some parents want to give their kid a wide range of experiences.  Trying a little of everything to see what they like.  This is awesome, kids should experience as much as they can without getting overloaded.

But one thing to be careful of is skipping a very important experience, and that is seeing things through.  Learning what it takes to not just taste a skill, but to get good at it.

Whether it is music, dance, martial arts or pretty much anything.  Most people are, at some point, going to think about and possibly want to quit.

You start something, you get real excited about doing something new and it’s great… but pretty much everyone in anything is going to have a point where they want to stop.

It makes sense, we go through stages in learning.  And different people have a hard time with different stages.

For a lot of people, getting started in the first place is the hardest thing.  That first trip through the door.  If all you do is sample different activities you might get good at starting things, and that is a good skill to have.  But learning to coup with the other stages is just as important.

Once you get started you quickly realize how much you don’t know and how hard it all is at first.  (Conscious incompetence in the 4 stages of learning).  This is the second hurdle to get over.  Showing up and learning a skill, even when it is not going well.  We start playing a instrument with a vision of playing well, or start martial arts with a vision of being able to pull things off.  But it’s hard, it takes time, and in the beginning… everyone doesn’t know what they are doing.

If you can get past the second stage you get to where you know what you are doing, but it doesn’t yet come naturally.  You have to think about it and be deliberate.  (conscious competence) .  At this stage there is a lot of repetition, It’s not as much learning new things as it is making things you know instinct and second nature.   The repetition and frustration with making mistakes when your brain tells you that you know better can get the better of you here.

And finally, you get to where things flow.  Where you can pick up a instrument and freestyle, where you can wrestle and move well instinctively.  Where the real joy of the skill kicks in and creativity and the “art” side of it comes out.  At this stage, for those that make it.  Quitting is a lot less common, it becomes a part of you.

That is a experience worth having, taking a skill to the point of unconscious competence.  No one regrets getting to this stage, but a lot of people wish they had.  The number of people that will say they wished they had kept at playing guitar, or kept at martial arts, or stuck with painting is a very high number.  But finding someone that says “I wish I’d been able to quit years ago when I wanted to” is a lot harder.

A short introduction to something is a good experience, taking a skill to the point of unconscious competence, where it becomes instinct and creativity… that is a truly amazing experience and one worth more then any number of introduction to _____’s.  Give your kids the experience of “Mastery”, and the process of reaching it.  It’s not easy, but it’s worth it.

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