Plateaus are a normal part of development. No matter what craft you are trying to master it is normal to experience times of rapid growth, times of stand still, or even times where you feel regression of skill. Though these tough times can be hard to handle, there are some things you need to know to help look to light at the end of the tunnel.
Don’t be anorexic
In an excellent book called The art of learning, the author Josh Waitzkin speaks of several different principles, the first being to invest in loss. The idea of investing in loss seems counterproductive, but when you take a look at the bigger picture you will see that often times it is failure or loss that causes us the greatest growth. Being afraid of failure can cause us to stop trying new things, stop developing new skills, and ultimately stop growing.
This idea can be summed up in a great visual provided by Josh in the book, in it he compares a person to a hermit crab; inside the shell of their comfort zone, they are safe from danger, however, the crabs growth is limited to the size of its shell. In order to get bigger and mature the crab must temporarily leave its shell to find a larger one. During this period the crab is exposed to danger, but it is vital to the growth of the crab. Not seeking personal growth can be likened to a crab refusing to eat for the fear of finding a new shell.
To sum up this idea, if you are a crab, your shell is your comfort zone. This is most likely your “A game”, your best moves. If you stick to what feels safe all the time, then eventually you will have learned all of what you can learn in those positions. Trying something new that goes along with your current gameplan may get you caught in a submission, but it will allow you to start making mistakes again, and once that happens you can start making improvements. Sometimes when you get stuck its best to just try something completely different, really go through the tough periods of trying something new, who knows, it might end up being your favorite new position.
Remember that life is cyclical
Life runs in cycles. Everything in life has an opposite, and this duality is part of what makes life what it is. Mountains have valleys and peaks, waves have crests and troughs, stories have conflicts and resolutions. Many times when life seems at its absolute worst, thats when a major positive change really occurs. Staying positive through a plateu can help you get through it faster, just having faith and knowing that the stock market is bound to go back up after a fall will help you through the hard times. I can’t even remember how many times I have felt like my Jiu-Jitsu has stopped progressing, only to experience an intense burst of inspiration and growth shortly after. If you find yourself at the bottom, start looking up.
Have faith in the process, know that bad things often proceed the best things in life. Invest in loss and don’t be anorexic, always look for opportunities to grow instead of focusing on immediate results and success is sure to follow.
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