Thursday, January 24, 2013

The art of the struggle.

I can't count the times I've heard taiko people make a remark similar to "I wish I had (insert player or group name here)'s talent."  Sure, it would be great to have more ability to make things easier for us in the long run, but there is something in struggling that often makes for a stronger player.

Consider that while the person with more talent might have had an easier start and gone farther faster, the person who took longer to get to the same point and struggled on the way had to learn how to make the best of their time.  It may have taken the "struggler" twice as long to get there but they've likely had to understand their body more so than the person who cruised through without having to consider the details.  In that understanding comes growth.

Consider that the person with more talent might not be as good at learning in workshops taught by other people, with other groups, or learning other skills.  In not being challenged as much as they progress, I've seen talented people get really frustrated when all of a sudden, they're not "getting it".  Those who have had trouble "getting it" over months and years and have struggled to do so already have a coping mechanism in place.

Consider that the person with more talent might not necessarily be a very good teacher, which is unfortunately something I have seen a lot of over the years.  Someone naturally really good at what they do still needs to understand why they're good at it before they can impart those skills in others.  Simply having the desire to isn't enough.  A person who has struggled to understand someone else's concept (a.k.a. being taught) for a while may very well have a better time understanding how to then transmit their own.

In addition (and perhaps contrary to) that is the value in struggling to understand what an instructor is trying to teach you.  If someone has something good to teach but you aren't getting it, the act of trying to figure out what the lesson is forces you to learn something.  In that struggle, you have to figure out how to use the tools you're given and the possibilities.  You may arrive at the wrong answer, but you've learned something in the process.  The alternative to this is is the expectation to be spoon-fed information, to have the answers given to you, and simply do what you're told.  In practice this sounds like the faster way to "learn" something, but like I've been saying all through this post, when you don't appreciate what the struggle gives you, you find yourself hitting frustration after frustration down the road because you haven't learned nearly what you thought you had.

I don't mean to imply that it's bad to have talent, that people with talent have issues, or that struggling inherently makes you a better person - of course not!  Having talent is great but as shown above, can also be limiting when relied on too much.

Appreciating the art of the struggle isn't always easy but you can - and should - learn something from it, even if it's an art you'd rather not practice!

1 comment:

  1. I had a breakthrough in life when I realized that learning is a creative process.

    We tend to think we learn by copying and pasting knowledge from teacher to student but it isn't like that, everyone understands the world differently. A teacher describes the shape of his understanding and the student tries to build his own understanding in that shape on top of what he already knows, like adding a new floor to a house.

    Talent usually just means that there are more foundation knowledges for that person to build onto, where as not having talent means you have to break more new ground.