Sunday, June 19, 2011

Focus on one trick at a time

"One who grasps too much grasps nothing"

How are we to understand this aphorism? Let's take the static of a radio as an example. Contrary to popular belief, static is not the absence of any frequency but the reception of many frequencies at once. As a result, no single frequency is heard properly. The mind is somewhat comparable to a radio. When one concentrates fully on one idea at a time the subject matter becomes lucid to the mind and its nuances surface. When, however, one experiences the static of distracting intrusive thoughts, the subject matter is obscured and remains vague. 

The above idea also applies to lengthy projects. For instance, when one learns something new, whether an academic subject or a sport, it is preferable to focus on one aspect of the discipline at a time and to master it. Only then should one proceed to the next step. In skateboarding this means that one should pick a few tricks of interest to focus on. In any given skate session one should select one or two of those tricks to hone in on, repeating them again, and again, and that one becomes acutely aware of the nuances involved in the trick's performance. This will help one master the trick relatively quickly.

This principle may seem counter-intuitive to some. After all, it would seem that by concentrating on one trick at a time it would take ages to master many tricks. In reality, however, the opposite is true. Skaters who diffuse their attention and effort over many tricks and randomly try whichever tricks comes to mind tend to progress slowly in their mastery of even a single trick. Everything has its short-long way and long-short way. The short-long way is one that appears short but contains so many hidden obstacles that it is really very long. In contrast, the long-short approach is one that may seem long at first but having little hidden obstacles and pitfalls ultimately shows to be short. Attempting to learn many tricks at once may seem like the shorter path to developing a large bag of tricks but is really a long path. On the other hand, focusing on one trick at a time may seem like a long path but is really the shorter.

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