The Deep Benefits of Learning Hard ThingsMarch 29th, 2020 · 21 comments
A reader pointed me toward a useful piece of advice from a recent episode of Joe Rogan’s podcast. Talking with comedian Bryan Callen, Rogan noted the following:
“When you put yourself in a situation where you really suck at something, it’s really good for you, it’s good to suck at things and try to get better at them…when you learn how to do something you suck at it first, you have to concentrate at getting better, that thing of getting better translates to other aspects of your life…if you can get good at learning how to play the piano you can get good at archery…there’s a thing in there of learning how to learn.”
This is an idea I’ve come across repeatedly during the research I’ve conducted for my various books. There’s something incredibly valuable in the deeply frustrating yet rewarding pursuit of mastering something hard. As Rogan correctly notes, when you practice the art of practicing, the skill can be applied widely . It’s why spending time to learn the piano, or archery, or chess, or hobby electronics can be more than a high quality alternative to the numbing blandness of passive information consumption, it can also make it easier later when you decide at work you need to master a complex new mathematical model or supply chain system.
There is, of course, also a psychological benefit to learning and then practicing a skilled craft, especially during otherwise chaotic times. As Rogan notes earlier in the interview: “you focus, then you execute, and if you do it properly, there’s a meditative aspect to it.”
(Photo by Kansas Tourism)