Knowledge should inform growth

An instructor of mine gave me some very good advice when I was around 16 or 17. He told me that previous experiences will inform future experiences. It wasn't particularly new or groundbreaking but it made an impact on my thinking moving forward.

At the time we were discussing my switching from one instrument to another from the season before. The gist of the conversation was to take what you know and adapt it to what you need to fill in the gaps. I was fairly talented in the one instrument but was afraid to switch because the other had seemed so different. Instead of thinking of it as an entirely new experience he challenged me to look at it as an opportunity to take what I know and expand it – to add more tools to the belt.

With this mentality and being open to new experiences, it becomes much easier to pick things up because you're never really starting from scratch anymore.

Here are a few of my thoughts that I keep in mind while learning.

  • Look for connections to what you already know. Some might not seem obvious or even related at all, but ideas aren't ever that fresh anymore and things are almost always designed with familiarity in mind.
  • Ask questions when you get stuck. The age of the internet has allowed unprecedented access to experts in almost every field you could imagine. Take advantage of it.
  • Don't be afraid to suck at something. Being bad at something means you're leaving a comfort zone. Work and learn until it becomes comfortable, then work until it becomes easy.