“Maybe I’ll watch a Youtube video to inspire me!”

Whatever skill we are trying to improve, be that playing at the piano, learning better sales techniques, or running a particular program, we may well turn to the Internet for inspiration.

But for at least some of us, (or maybe just me), it can feel defeating.

Watching someone play the third movement of the Moonlight Sonata with incredible finesse, often leaves me with a sense of:

“Ugh, why bother?”

I wonder about all the work involved to get there. The regularity of sitting at the piano, the repetition of phrases, and the number of pages to memorize, all threaten to overwhelm before I even start.

The same process happens with any form of learning. Maybe you hear a colleague recite some fact and think,

“I should already know this!”

So, how do we keep going? How do we make it through these self-doubting phases threatening defeat?

The most difficult skill in learning is found in neither these advanced abilities nor some remote but seemingly still profound nuggets of knowledge.

It is in the ability to return to and relearn the basics, our understanding of the fundamentals that grows and decays, requiring tending as with any garden.

Most of mastery is a mastery of the basics.

The better we can play a single note,
the better we can absorb the foundations of any field,

… the greater strength in our growth.

The trouble with returning to the basics are *the emotions involved*. The feelings of:

– I should already know this
– If I ask, I’ll reveal my lack of knowledge
– If I try, I’ll see my lack of skill, …

all conspire to block the return to the basics.

In this way, we can see a difference between challenge and hard work.

Challenge might involve intensity and complexity, but when we meet it above boredom and below overwhelm, we can find stimulation. Working the music notes into my fingers can feel wonderful, just like the experience of getting to the next level of a well-designed video game.

Hard work then is about emotion. It is about facing the fear, shame, frustration, and more, in order to return to the basics and gently build the way back to challenge.

– KouroshPS For more about the path of mastery, consider either:
Workflow Mastery: Building from the Basics
– Waves of Focus: Guiding the Wandering Mind