On Learning and Perfection
Fragments from imaginary dialogues
“Focus on progress, not perfection.”
“Depends what we’re talking about.
If we’re talking about ‘hard skills’, which require automaticity, the aim is to create perfect mental patterns. This requires perfect form and execution. The unit of practice in this case is the perfect rep(etition) – these are the only ones worth counting. So if I perform 20 reps and only 2 are perfect, my final rep count is 2.
If we’re talking about ‘soft skills’, the aim is adaptation and improvisation. This requires playful exploration. The unit of practice in this case is mis-takes, so imperfection – the more, the better. Every mis-take is a beautiful learning opportunity.
I like to think of them in aesthetic terms.
The former require beautiful execution.
The latter require failing beautifully.”