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Let Setbacks Deepen Your Resolve

When aiming for the top, your path requires an engaged, searching mind. You have to make obstacles spur you to creative new angles in the learning process. Let setbacks deepen your resolve. You should always come off an injury or a loss better than when you went down. Another angle on this is the unfortunate correlation for some between consistency and monotony. It is all too easy to get caught up in the routines of our lives and to lose creativity in the learning process.” – Josh Waitzkin, The Art Of Learning

I have two college kids who are looking at the next few weeks of online learning, cancelled events at school and the real possibility that the semester will be spent remotely. That’s a tough hand to be dealt to a college Junior, and even tougher for a college Senior. But that’s the world we live in at the moment. There’s nothing routine about a pandemic. Perhaps that jolt to our collective routine will spur unparalleled creativity and advancement. Perhaps we’ll collectively all watch Netflix. I hope for the former.

When Waitzkin points out the unfortunate correlation for some between consistency and monotony, he includes the important qualifier for some. He rose to be one of the best in the world in a couple of very different pursuits (chess and martial arts) because he embraced monotonous routine instead of becoming bored and moving on to some other pursuit. Don’t we owe it to ourselves to find the magic in our own routine? How else do you achieve mastery?

Today is the first day of working from home for a lot of people. I’ve worked from home for years, but always sprinkled with travel and meetings. I love activity, and now I need to focus on a different kind of activity. But so does everyone else. Included in that are a couple of twenty-somethings who get to experience a completely different college experience. We’re all on a new learning routine, every one of us, with new obstacles highlighting the frailties of our old routines. Time to step up – ready?

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