There’s a huge gap in performance between people who know what they’re doing, and those who don’t. No-brainer, right? Where this falls down is that many of us don’t actively participate in our own knowledge unless we’re training for something; going to school, training at work, apprenticeship. But when we’re wrapped up in the doing of the work, and the work is learning, we often fail to see the possibilities associated with being a neophyte.
We need to appreciate more actively the time we spend as novices. The process of learning is a magical one; gaining knowledge, connecting with those further ahead on whatever path we’re pursuing – it’s a sequence that doesn’t repeat until we begin to teach others, if we do. And even when that happens, the experience is different because the discovery is lost, we’ve traded it in for observing the effects of discovery on others, which is its own kind of magic.
Part of this appreciation comes from first recognizing the real scope of our skills. A number of smart people have said essentially the same thing; you can’t learn what you believe you already know.When you’re a real novice, you don’t even know what you don’t know. As an advanced beginner, you begin to get a sense both of the tasks involved and how to do them, as well as a kind of depth gauge, that should warn you when you’re in over your head.
Another part is taking stock of where our newly acquired skills are leading us. If becoming a huge football star means eventually living in constant pain, do you really want the fame? Sure, you may have talent. A lot of people will put pressure on you to use that talent. But is it worth it, for you, to sacrifice health in the interest of a temporary paycheque and the ephemeral pain of fame?
The time you spend getting it wrong isn’t just an opportunity to make sure you can improve your skills. It’s also a chance to ensure that the skills you’re improving are going to be useful to you down the road.