So I teach Brazilian jiu-jitsu sometimes. I try to teach as well as I can, which means constructing lesson plans that (in my head) are exactly what I would have liked to be taught when I started. Fundamental moves, taught in a sensible (if boring) sequence. Loads of drilling. Practising the stuff that works, not the stuff that looks cool.
But that isn’t how I learned jiu-jitsu.
It probably isn’t how I learned anything that I got really good at.
Usually, sustaining your own desire to get good at The Thing is the best way to get good at The Thing.
Sometimes this means doing things that aren’t the best for your long-term development – spending a week trying to learn a flying armbar, trying out the move you just saw someone win with in the UFC, experimenting with kettlebells, acai or CrossFit instead of just fucking practising – but that’ll keep you interested, and motivated. Almost everyone who’s any good at anything did this stuff too, but they conveniently erase the early tomfoolery from their memory and present their progress as a nice neat ‘curve’, A to B, no setbacks.
You can iron out technical problems when you’re already too invested to ever think of going back. But you have to keep your love of The Thing. And so it isn’t really a learning curve – it’s a zigzag, where you mess around and plateau and sometimes even go back or down – but you keep doing the thing, because you’re just messing around and learning in your own way and it’s still fun.
So I’ll be revising how I teach my classes a bit. And I’ll try to remember that, when I’m learning something new, it’s good to have structure, but that there’s nothing wrong with messing around occasionally.
HOMEWORK: Whatever you’re learning, get back to why you wanted to learn it this week. Do the lift you most enjoy in the gym, learn some French swearwords, draw a monkey. Have fun.