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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Masters of the Universe (and other Algebraic Ideas)

The picture to the right is an asymptote - a line that gets progressively closer to another line without ever touching it. I was reading Drive by Daniel Pink, and in it he talks about how mastery of a skill or set of skills is like an asymptote. We can constantly approach mastery, but never achieve it.

Think of it this way: mastery is 100% ability to do what you want to do (say it's preach with PowerPoint). You practice and learn and you go from 0% ability to 50% ability with PowerPoint in short order. That's a huge accomplishment and your preaching shows marked improvement. Now you practice some more and your ability jumps again from 50% to 75% - you're on a roll! You'll have this done in no time. But the next cycle you only get to 87.5% and then 93.75% and then 96.875. You keep getting so close to 100%, but you can never quite get there.

For some of us, that will be frustrating and cause us to want to give up. But for others, we will be endlessly motivated to keep improving. It's so close, so tangible. We can almost get there. We just want to keep getting better.

Which type of person are you?

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