How to take any skill to the next level
Learning a skill? Understanding this concept will help you keep making progress.
3 min read
tldr: to improve, focus on sucking less.
Seems obvious doesn't it?
Or did a lightbulb just go off in your head?
It did for me.
Let me explain.
This is the elevation profile of Mount Everest base camp.
Pay attention to how we get to the top of the mountain.
This is a price chart of random crypto coin (psst, it's bitcoin).
Pay attention to how price moves to get to the top.
Just for fun, here's another price chart. Can you guess which stock it is?
Actually it doesn't matter, but ok – it's Apple.
There are two things to note:
1. everything moves in waves – up and down again and again
(except if you're the US dollar money supply, lol.)
Anyhow, back to waves.
Everything, alive or dead, has a vibration.
Ripples in a pond.
The seasons changing.
That rock on the ground.
It's all cycles and waves.
2. higher highs and higher lows
How do you draw a wavy line that goes up?
You need a series of higher highs (HH), and higher lows (HL).
In trading (technical analysis), this is called an uptrend.
Price has to go up more than it goes down over time.
If we translate this to learning, this means to improve we must
- improve our A game and create a higher high – learn new techniques/topics about the skill
- improve our C game and create a higher low – suck less
This is also known as the inchworm concept.
I learnt this from Jared Tendler – author of The Mental Game of Poker and The Mental Game of Trading.
In case you didn't know, this is an inchworm aka a caterpillar.
(Don't worry, I got you fam)
Now imagine the inchworm is a moving bell curve going up a chart.
The bell curve represents the range of your abilities / decisions.
Notice that for the inchworm to move forward, it
- brings its backend forward,
- anchors the back "foot", and then
- stretches and straightens its frontend forward
- anchors the front "foot"
A game – Your best game (at this time), you're in the flow. When things don't work out, it was because of unavoidable learning mistakes. It's when a baby falls down when she's learning to walk – it had to happen. It's just part of learning a new skill.
B game – a blend of A and C game.
C game – Avoidable and obvious mistakes. Unforced errors. These mistakes happened because you were too emotional, lacked energy, or haven't developed the muscle memory of the correct technique.
In poker, when a player is playing his C game, he's said to be "on-tilt".
In trading, it's when a trader is in "revenge trading" mode.
These are examples where emotions play a big role in decision making because it's all mental.
In physical sports like jiu jitsu, I make avoidable mistakes because I couldn't do the correct technique at the right time. So I need drill it more and get more reps in.
To sum up, you can't improve your frontend without improving your backend or weaknesses
And when your inchworm moves forward, you now have a new A game and your past A game becomes your current C game, and your past C game is gone.
That's why sometimes if you're feeling stuck or unsure about how to improve, try figuring out how to suck less.
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