It’s good to observe experts in our field of interest. They provide great inspiration and a view of what is possible. It’s also important to realize how long it took those experts to achieve that level of skill.
When learning anything new, we need to be aware when we are attempting to ski down the Black Diamond slopes with only Green Circle skills.
In the US, ski slopes are typically labeled for increasing levels of difficulty, from Green Circles to Blue Squares to Black Diamonds. There are even Double Black Diamond slopes for the truly crazy, er, skilled skiers.
If you’ve ever attempted to ski down a snowy slope that is beyond your current skill level, you know that getting down that slope involves a lot of time on your behind – or strapped to a stretcher escorted by the Ski Patrol.
In most things we undertake, there are many more than just 3 levels. To keep things simple, let’s say our area of interest has 10 levels.
For me, the best way to learn new skills is to hang out with people who are 1 or 2 notches above my current skill level. That gap feels like it can be crossed. And my own skill level is close enough to those above me that I am not too much of a drag on them.
Beyond that 1-2 levels, I get frustrated trying to keep up. I spend too much time on my behind. I get discouraged. I might even end up being carried away on a stretcher. And those I’m trying to learn from get frustrated at having to slow down for me.
On the other hand, if I only hang out with those who are at the same level, or below, my learning is stunted.
Seek out those who are farther along than you. Create opportunities to learn from them. Just be careful in your selection so that you are stretching without breaking.
One last thought. As you advance in your skills, you will inevitably travel at different rates than those around you. Watch out for friends who seek to hold you back because they can’t or choose not to keep up with you. That Black Diamond slope is calling. Let your friend take the Green Circle slope. You can still meet up at the bottom for a warm cup of cocoa.