Unlocking a new skill

Over the long weekend, I spent a bunch of time with my kids doing outdoor cold weather activities. I love the winter, and I love winter sports — there is something about being outside on a cold, sunny day that gets my blood moving and makes me feel great.

Those who have read this blog for a while may know that a few years ago I got the ice skating bug and have been working on my skating and learning to play ice hockey.

This past weekend, while skating with my kids, I had a breakthrough moment — the elusive “backwards crossovers” that I wrote about back in 2016 finally made sense, both to my brain and to my body. It’s like that moment in Night School where Kevin Hart finally manages to make sense of the jumble of mathematical symbols:

It was amazing: somehow I managed to slow things down, connect my brain and my body in the right way, and the move that I just couldn’t master for so long suddenly made sense.  It was absolutely a combination of body and mind — understanding it the way as well as feeling it the right way.  

This is not a post about ice skating.  But rather about the magic that happens when you finally unlock a new skill.  It is an amazing feeling, and not something we get to feel every day. 

I think there is something particularly important about doing it to get it — it’s one thing to read about something, or watch videos, etc — but nothing substitutes for getting out there and trying it (and falling a few times along the way).  This is a lesson I keep reminding myself of whenever I’m trying to learn something new.

4 comments on “Unlocking a new skill”

“I think there is something particularly important about doing it to get it”. I couldn’t read when i learned how to walk. Doing is the essence of all such learning. Reading, videos, online tutorials, et.c., et.c. it’s all a bit too abstract most of the time.

When one works with their brain, it is important to do some manual labor or sport to balance the machine.

Even though I used to build big buildings, I always had a lake house or project that put a tool in my hand. As an engineer, I needed and still need the reality of sweat, blisters, and fatigue.

There is a “special kind of tired” that requires us to expend our energy in the physical pursuit of something tangible. Even better if it is noble.



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