We know that being good at, say, tennis will stand us in good stead when we take up squash and badminton. But what are the deeper transferable skillls or attitudes or approaches that have in your experience helped you acquire widely differing skills? For example, in my case being happy wiith the slow aquisition of any skill only came after I studied martial arts, which I found harder than any previous thing I had learned. But once I had the knack of sustaining interest even when I was outwardly not progressing I had the key to learn almost anything. I certainly used this approach when learning languages that had previously defeated me. so what is your experience of underlying polymathic skills?
As much as I plan something I have learned to begin. I can plan a project as thoroughly as possible, hesitate starting, retool, plan from another angle and what I notice is I learn so much after I begin that I have wondered why i did not simply begin then retool and continue. The layers that appear and the fears that disappear once I simply begin have allowed me to use this underlying " skill " if it can be called that to try things that I did not have the confidence to attempt previously. Usually the project involves other people also and the shared experience informs the projects larger value once commenced. All of this may sound kind of obvious but it has been effective in what I have been able to do.
My own experience is that patience plays a fundamental role. Not expecting things to go ''your way'' --they rarely do-- and getting used to ''distractions from the road'' and all kinds of mishaps. While all these things are happening, and without one's even realizing it, after a time you find you have --unawares-- acquired skills you didn't have before or had planned for. Maybe a fundamental trust that everything's ultimately in good hands --and certainly not our hands, thank God!
In continuation of jm's very interesting point about the 'magic of beginning': I've found that every project (in the loosest sense) has so much that is peculiar to that project that by just starting you are halfway there, even if you know nothing, and that momentum is enough to keep you going, learning as you go, to the end. It's a bit like getting your aim in with a gun. ready, fire... then aim, then fire again. I think in the developed world we've become too nervous about new projects- call it the monopathic disease- and so we endlessly 'circle' something before starting. It's like trying to practise swimming before ever getting in the water. Just jump in.
After reading your last post regarding Amundsen #4 it brought to mind another skill that is transferable and that is humour. In the making of decisions I have found my mind to be quite good at making lists and even comparing one path with the other but the premise is often left unexamined. Humour seems to have the effect of scale or distance from the process as well as being an light, energy generator. Humour allows me to look at the process or project ( in the loosest use of the word as mentioned ) with fresh positive eyes.
There's a certain simplicity --and humbleness-- in those who have a healthy sense of humor. They can laugh at themselves and are aware of how little they know, how little a man's best efforts amount to. And gladly accept it, which liberates them from the rigid thinking patterns or ''oughts to''. It's a joy to be with these people, you get a sense of freshness and renewal, even of hope against all hope. In their presence you feel everything's OK no matter how ''wrong'' things may have gone. Somehow part of it ''sticks'', depending on one's own openness, willingness to take what may come.
Hi, Robert! Just finished reading THE KEYS TO THE KINGDOM --great article, and most relevant to this thread. Worth reading several times, as it's filled with gold nuggets. Thanks for sharing!
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