In another life, I was a team leader at a technology company. We were developing a new geographical mapping dataset, and we hired a young student who had an affinity with maps to look over them to find out if there were mistakes in them.
In the first weeks, he’d find around eight mistakes a day! And these were severe mistakes. He’d walk up to my desk, a big smile on his face because he’d found a stupid error in our data again.
But as the weeks wore on, the number of mistakes he’d found each day trickled down. Eventually, he only found a few a week, and they were not show-stoppers either. He wasn’t as happy anymore because he didn’t feel as helpful. But we were delighted, of course! It meant there were very few if any, mistakes left.
What turned out to be the case was that the number of things you discover you didn’t know in a specific time frame is a measure of how much you don’t know still. If you find around eight things wrong with map data, you’re bound to find eight more issues the day after that. And the day after that. The number of things you discover goes down slowly, though, day after day. Essentially, each day, you find out a certain percentage of the things you don’t know yet, and as that body of ignorance shrinks, so does that percentage of it, and you start discovering less and less.Later, I had quit that job and gone to Art Academy. Inspired by my realization, I started to write down each time I learned something new, no matter how small. And what I discovered was that on the days I was at Art Academy, I would learn three times as many things compared to the days where I didn’t go to Art Academy. Art academy acted as a catalyst for my growth; it sped up my development. I would probably have learned the things I learned there on my own, but that happened much faster there. I had bought time with money.
As a challenge this week, on each day, for seven days, write down each time you learn something new. Also, write down what you did on each day. Try to include all activities, like watching films or spending time on social media.
Later, you can analyze the results. Are you learning many more things a day while at Art Academy or watching YouTube tutorials, for example?
Or are you learning less on days you are on social media a lot?
The number of things you learn on a day is a measure of how much you don’t know yet because if you learned three new things today, you are bound to learn around three more things tomorrow. And the day after that, and the day after that.
Pause and look at the list you wrote down, realize that you are growing, watch your development speed, and seek out the activities that make you grow faster.
The as always excellent Draftsmen has an excellent video here on a related topic; epiphanies.
I wrote here about the five stages of a skill and the method described here might help you figure out what stage you are currently in. If you learn many new things in a day, you may be closer to stage one.
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