Winning is the end goal.
No doubt about it.
But, sometimes, the best way to win is to lose.
Let’s dive into the often-referred learning curve.
(Wait till I invest in an iPad…)
For a single subject, the learning curve looks somewhat like on the figure above.
I’d argue that there are more times when it actually goes down, especially after you master the basics.
What I’d like to focus on are these local minimums where even though you keep on learning (more attempts/learning hours) your overall skill goes down.
These moments are crucial and will shape how good you’ll become in a certain skill. And the most important thing is what you do in these moments.
So, there are two ways you can pick.
What happens in these little pits is that you find out certain things don’t work. You either don’t understand them well enough or are just too complex for you at the moment.
The first scenario that you can pick and is to focus on these parts that you understand and stick to those. In other words, prioritize winning.
The second scenario is less intuitive and requires you to (yes, I’m gonna say it) step out of your comfort zone. Namely, the alternative is to focus on what you don’t understand and focus your brainpower on understanding and mastering those.
In other words, prioritize improvement.
If you’re going to pick the first scenario, you’ll likely get out of the local minimum and skyrocket your progress for a certain period.
But then you’re going to hit a plateau and another pit will be on the way waiting for you with even more complex aspects that can’t be understood without expertise in what you’ve left behind.
And the only way is… down.
How about the second scenario?
You won’t escape the pit so fast.
In fact, you’re likely to go down even deeper even though you put in more learning hours.
But… as time passes you’re going to go up with the understanding of concepts that were too complex before.
Now you won’t have to be afraid of what’s ahead as you’ve mastered another set of “more complex basics” that will help you get into the more advanced stuff.
This comparison is also the short-term vs long-term dispute.
Prioritizing winning is good for the short-term but will leave you poor in the future.
Prioritizing improvement is a long-term strategy that seems worse at the moment you apply it but will get you much further as you move further.
Choose your goal and prioritize the strategy that is more likely to take you there.