If you’re feeling a bit stuck with life or work this bit of information might help. It featured in a recent newspaper article – I’d forgotten all about it. As you read it, think how you might apply it to you. It’s certainly given me food for thought!
How We Improve
There’s been a lot of research on how we improve and get better, and on why some people become experts in their field. Virtuoso musicians, for example, are generally no more naturally gifted than mediocre musicians. What they have is a drive and a passion to improve and be the best. Both groups practise regularly but the ones that go on to improve the most spend their time learning new things on their instrument and pushing themselves with complicated scales, while the mediocre tend to stick with tunes that they already know.
Apparently this has been well researched with speed typing! When people first learn to use a keyboard they improve very fast until they can do it without thinking. And at this point they don’t get any better. They plateau at a good enough level. They can get better, however, if they push themselves beyond what is comfortable for them and just keep typing faster and, crucially, allow themselves to make mistakes, they get better. They end up typing faster with fewer mistakes.
In the sixties, two psychologists, Michael Posner and Paul Fitts described the three stages people go through when acquiring new skills.
The Cognitive Stage, when we’re acquiring the new skill and intellectualising it; we’re looking for new strategies to accomplish it more efficiently.
The Associative Stage is when you’ve almost got it and are getting better at the task.
The Autonomous Stage is when you’re more or less doing it all automatically, like driving. You no longer think about changing the gears, you just do it automatically.
How many things in your life are plateaued? How much do you just do on auto pilot, on cruise control? Are you able to let yourself speed up and make mistakes? How much better might your life be if you could do that, in just one area? How prepared are you to take a risk to be better?
Photo Credit: Innosence
Posted on April 6th, 2011 by Jane