When we wake up, how many of us think of what we want to do today? Almost all of us.
How many of us think of improving at what we do? Not many.
The presentation should be ready at 2. The code should get deployed. The author’s biography should come under every article. Let’s put in a hack. Grammarly shows that this pronoun doesn’t make any sense in the sentence. I don’t understand why but let’s get rid of it. Spaghetti over boiled again. But at least we have dinner.
As Josh Waitzkin, the chess and Tai Chi Push hands world champion, said in his book The Art of Learning, “We focus so much on the outcome that the intrinsic details of the learning process are lost on us.”
Instead of always copy-pasting from the sample presentation, we could learn how to add a subscript to a number. Shorten the code. Really learn WordPress rather than using hacks. Remove dangling pronouns. Not over-boil spaghetti.
But all of this would need more time, effort, and care. Rather than getting the job done, we would have to focus on the process of learning.
Why is the process of learning so important? If we are getting the result, why do we have to learn or do things in a better way?
How would you quickly debug your redundantly-long code if a client’s investment now shows as 0 instead of $10,000? Wouldn’t the hacks slow down your website? You might not notice now but all of these hacks could hit it together. You might proofread all your articles with Grammarly but some intrusive pronouns would still dangle in unnoticed places. Publishers would ignore your website because one “it” hung around uninvited.
My point is — Life is a marathon. Not a sprint. You have to keep running. You have to build the foundation of the house strong enough so that it could bear all the earthquakes and storms. And believe me, bad days come.
The process of learning is that foundation. Learning is more important than the outcome. And those who understand this — always win. Excel. Improve. And sleep through storms.
We all undermine the process of learning. And the worst part is — that we do not even realize it.
When I used to code, rather than understanding the root cause of a code break, I was more interested in just fixing the issue. To get done. The next time when the same problem happened, I worked from scratch again. I did not focus on learning the first time. And ended up spending more time and energy all the subsequent times.
If you are an architect, but you don’t know how 3 D objects could be presented in 2 D, you can look at someone else’s sheet and get the work done. But what about the next time? And the next time?
Niranjan, my yoga guru, always reminded us to improve our postures. He said that we could go on with one hour of yoga and sweat and roll our mats and go home and feel happy about working out. But all of that would mean nothing if we didn’t improve our postures. Only then the body would accept changes and the right muscles would work. Else the purpose of yoga would be defeated.
If we don’t do something properly — it could be worse than not doing it at all.
But if we focus on the learning process, even if that takes more time at the moment, we would be faster and better all the following times.
Once we internalize the process, rest follows.
When I was preparing for JEE, a difficult entrance examination for the best engineering institute of India(IIT), I had a good grasp on concepts and solved, say, ninety-percent of the problems easily. But when I focused on the five percent of the course that I did not understand, I could solve almost all the questions.
How did I do it? By internalizing the concepts. By practicing them over and over. By learning well.
I nailed that exam.
Our goals and achievements are by-products of learning — measures of how well we have learned.
Remember, hit and trial or luck can only go so far. The most important is the process itself.
Don’t worry about time. Before we finish something or learn how to do it well, we move on. Josh Waitzkin said, “We have to be able to do something slowly before we can have any hope of doing it correctly with speed.”
A lady’s black leather boot broke. She limped to a cobbler and asked him to fix it quickly as she was late for a meeting. The cobbler moved his needle artistically and within 5 minutes, he stitched the shoe well.
Do you think this cobbler would have been able to work fast if he wasn’t skilled? No. He must have practiced using the needle over and over again. He must have focused on the process of learning.
And because he learned well, he had the upper hand between him and the job.
Don’t lose yourself in the rush. You would rush but wouldn’t reach. Because you cannot hack life.
Give yourself to the learning process. Then you would achieve the outcome naturally. The only thing left would be to measure the outcome.
Have goals. Dream. Carve out a path to achieve those goals and dreams. Then forget about them. Walk. Don’t run blindly. Don’t fall into the same pits again. Watch out for them and learn how to jump over them. Tick-off milestones. Enjoy results and successes. Start walking again. You would achieve more than you had planned for.
Focusing on the process of learning is the best hack you got to make through this life. Without bleeding for no reason at all. For no reason at all.
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