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I’m an Agilist, a former software engineer, a gamer, an improviser, a podcaster emeritus, and a wine lover. Learn more.

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Saturday
Feb052011

Finding Ways to Flatten the Learning Curve

I am skiing better than I ever have before. That I am doing this on a slightly gimpy knee is encouraging.

I had never skied before we moved to California. I went for the first time in 2001, and I fell in love with it immediately. We ski about eight days a year now, and every year I get better. The trick I figured out last year is for me to focus on good form. I can ski just about anything on the mountain, but I can’t ski all of it well. What I started doing last year was spending time on terrain I can ski well and deliberately skiing it really, really well. Last year, that was moderately-pitched groomed runs. I concentrated on carving my turns and getting my edges in even when going in a relatively straight line.

This year, I can feel the payoff from that work.1 I can carve effortlessly on those same runs, and I can shed speed in narrow tracks. This year I’m applying that same practice to steeper runs, not just skiing them on the edge of control. In years past, I’ve skied fast on such terrain; this year I’m taking the time to own them. The skills I’m locking in this year will help me master different terrain next year.

This strategy is in marked contrast to what I did the first few years I skied. Back then, I went on all sorts of stuff that was beyond me. I didn’t spend time becoming an expert on any of it; I just tried it and survived it. And at that point, that’s what I needed to do. It taught me about the different types of snow that are out there and what they demanded of me. It taught me about the richness of the sport and what parts of it I enjoyed most.

Mastery is a frustratingly slow thing to develop at times.2 Skiing is reminding me that different tactics work at different places along the learning curve.


1 As well as the payoff from working out and eating better.

2 There’s a post coming about the tyranny of the 10000 Hour Rule.

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