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Reblogged:Pareto vs. Stagnation and Dabbling

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Writing for Outside Online, Brad Stuhlberg considers two types of learning in light of the Pareto principle, also known as the 80-20 Rule, and discusses the differing kinds of benefits one can reap from a lifetime of trying new things and taking the time to master some of them.

I think most people can pretty easily see the value in seeking out new experiences, so I'll quote Stuhlberg's last two paragraphs, where he ties this together with the less-obvious benefits of pursuing mastery:
This man is practicing a skill I do not feel the need to try, much less master. (Image by Hu Chen, via Unsplash, license.)
"To practice regularly, even when you seem to be getting nowhere, might at first seem onerous," writes [George] Leonard [in his book, Mastery]. "But the day eventually comes when practice becomes a treasured part of your life. You settle into it as if into your favorite easy chair. It will be there for you tomorrow. It will never go away."

Perhaps the key to long-term fulfillment, skill, and happiness is to think about the 80/20 rule like this: embrace both zero to 80 and 80 to 100. Find ways to be a beginner, or at the very least cultivate a beginner's mind. But also work toward being a master in some way, prioritizing depth and experiencing the granular texture that comes with it. [emphasis in original, link omitted]
I'll be the first to admit that the click-baity title of the piece, "The Mental Benefits of Being Terrible at Something," drew me in, but I don't think it's accurate: Saying that someone is terrible at something is unfair to the beginner and to the competent non-master alike. And the piece makes a great point about the different kinds of challenges we can find in the pursuits of novelty and mastery. But as for a better title, I am stumped.

Perhaps part of being a great writer is recognizing when the perfect is the enemy of the good.

-- CAV

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