Build stronger skills through better challenges

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Brian Kight

I'll briefly describe the three forms of challenges I mentioned yesterday. This is one of my favorite ways to develop discipline with intention. Look for or create ways to put yourself into these three situations.

  1. Your skills exceed the challenge:
    • It feels like play. Highly confident play.
    • More of your mind is free to focus on improvement because it's not processing uncertainty and fear. You can often detach enough to look down at yourself in real-time reflection as you perform.
    • This is where you refine your skill, technique, artistry, and precision.
    • You're not worried about whether you can do it well. You already know that. Instead, you focus on trying to improve what you already do well.
    • You can be more creative and exploratory in these situations since you can always return to your core fundamental skills.
  1. Your skills match the challenge:
    • It feels like a mixture of excitement and nervous energy.
    • You know you're capable but must perform near your best to succeed. You have little margin for error or relaxed effort.
    • Your skills barely match the challenge like two puzzle pieces fitting together.
    • This is performance practice.
    • The challenge commands your full attention. No extra attention is free for creativity and real-time reflection. You must recruit all your resources to perform the task with the skills you have.
    • The experience is immersive without being overwhelming. You almost disappear into the effort. 
  1. The challenge exceeds your skills: 
    • It's intimidating, triggering fear, doubt, or confusion. It could also be blind ignorance due to a lack of awareness.
    • Your mind goes into tunnel vision survival mode. It races to process what's going on and what's coming next and scrambles to keep up.
    • Awareness of everything else, including anticipation and context, almost disappears. It's overwhelming.
    • This is for training your skill gaps and exposing you to what is unfamiliar.
    • You immediately notice what you struggle with and where you break down. Valuable information and experience.
    • By strategically stressing yourself like this, you steadily inoculate yourself against the stress of the challenge. As your stress lowers, your skills elevate to match the challenge.

How often do you put yourself into Challenges 2 and 3 by conscious choice and design?

How often do you use Challenge 1 to sharpen your skills by conscious choice and design?

Brick by brick. Do the work.

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