SSBM Training 1: Marth's SH Double Fair

Super Smash Brothers Melee (SSBM) is hard. And it's hard to get started. I've read a lot of guides and tips. A lot of the info is very helpful. But I think most of it is way too advanced for most players.

I'm not very good at SSBM, but I think most people are probably a lot worse. No offense. I've played games from a young age, I've played a lot of games, I've played a large amount, and I've been very very good at some games. And I started playing Smash before SSBM came out. Not very well, but I've been familiar with Smash for a long time, and followed it much more closely than most fans.

I've been practicing SSBM. Mostly tech skill, alone. I like the game, I like understanding how it works, I like seeing how hard it is and facing a challenge, and I like having a better understanding of what the pros I watch in tournaments are doing, what it's like for them.

I have figured out some ways to practice that are more basic than are usually taught, and I think they could really help people. For example, people say to practice Marth's SH (short hop) double fair (forward air attack). But I can't do that. It's really hard. To some people, it's just the basics. But to me, it's an advanced skill that's going to take a lot of work. My hands have sped up a lot from practice, but I still have a long way to go to SH double fair.

So how do you work your way up? What's in between nothing and SH double fair? My main point in this post is to show you how to break down a technique, like SH double fair, into a bunch of intermediate steps you can practice one by one. Even something pretty simple can be divided into a lot of different things to practice, instead of just being all-or-nothing.

(And for my regular philosophy audience, take note: you can apply similar methods to many other topics outside of gaming. Treat this as a detailed concrete example which illustrates an important philosophical method, and see what you can learn about philosophy.)

- SH

Start with SH alone. To SH, just hit jump and let go fast (before you're in the air). Don't feel bad if you suck at it. I would stand there and hit jump and do nothing else, and Marth would full hop. It took me a ton of practice just to SH. Actually, first I learned to SH Peach, who has an easier one than Marth. Marth is 3 frames, Peach is 4, Fox is 2. Almost all the characters are in one of those three categories. If you have trouble, practice with a 4 frame SH character first. Here's the list of how many frames each character has for short hopping (smaller numbers are harder, meaning you have to let go of jump faster).

One of the cool things I found is, after I practiced Marth's SH a lot, even when I still wasn't very good at it, then when I went back to Peach she became easy. And then once I practiced Sheik's 2 frame SH, and went back to Marth, then Marth felt easier. But you can't move up too early, just starting with Sheik wouldn't have done me any good if I can never get it at all.

- SH While Distracted

As an aside, let me say that being able to stand still and do a SH, and being able to do it while playing the game against an opponent, are different things. As one example, once you can SH ok, try to run forward and SH. You'll miss some because of the distraction. Once you get better at that, try shield stop SHs. That means you dash forward, then very quickly hit shield, then very quickly after that, short hop. Even once I was good at SHing in place, I couldn't do shield stop SHs without some practice. Learning to link together the things you practice makes them harder.

The point is, don't get frustrated if you thought you could SH, but then you try to do SH and something else, and suddenly you can't SH. It's going to happen. It's no big deal, you just need more practice until your ability to SH is less barely and more solid.

- SH Nair

Once you can SH, try to SH Nair (neutral air attack, meaning A with no direction). Hit jump then A. You'll probably miss some SHs from trying to hit A also. Don't worry, practice, you can learn this.

Now to the main point: if you jump and then hit A fast enough, you will land without going into a recovery animation from the nair. The best way to see this is get the 20xx Hack Pack and turn on the flashing red and white for failed and successful L cancels. If you SH nair and you hit A slowly, you will see Marth flash red. If you do it fast enough, Marth will not flash any color.

When I started, I couldn't do this. Marth would flash red. Maybe I could get it 10% of the time. But, again, you practice and you get better. This is a hell of a lot easier than SH double fair. It's a smaller step forward. This will get your hands faster while being a smaller and more achievable goal.

- SH Fair

Next, try to SH fair. If you do this quickly, Marth won't flash red. You have to be a little faster than with SH nair. (If you don't have 20xx hack pack, you'll have to try to watch Marth and visibly see the difference between whether he does his recovery animation from landing during fair, or not. Which is a skill that takes practice. You can learn it early if you have to, but I'd really recommend getting the 20xx pack.)

- SH Uair

Next, try to SH uair (up air attack). Again, you'll have to be a little faster. You'll also have to learn to press the dstick (directional stick, the joystick used for moving) lightly so you don't double jump.

- SH Bair

If you can go even faster, you can do a SH bair (back air) with Marth and land without flashing red. If you do it successfully, Marth will turn around (so this one is easy to tell if you succeeded even without the 20xx Hack Pack).

- C Stick

Then go back through and practice all of these using the cstick (the little yellow joystick) instead of A. (Except not nair, you can't nair with cstick). Again this makes it harder. But it's possible, and with practice your hands will get faster. (As I write this, I can just barely bair with c-stick on a small percentage of attempts. And one really interesting thing I noticed is I can do it a lot easier to the left than the right. After hitting jump, I can press cstick left faster than right. The only reason I can tell the difference is because when doing the SH bairs, that tiny difference actually affected my results because I was so borderline on being able to do it at all. I think that's pretty cool to find that out, and gives me useful information, and potentially something to practice. For example, once I can start to do some SH double fairs with cstick, I'll have to practice to the left first which will be easier so I can have success sooner. And once I can do that a little, I'll have to practice to the right also. Doing it to the left first will be a little easier, another step I can practice before doing it to the right.)

- SH, Fair, Double Jump

Next, try to short hop fair, then as soon as you start the fair, start mashing jump. If you're fast enough, you'll double jump instead of landing. You can also try to learn to press jump at the right timing instead of mashing.

Once you can do that (I can only do it 10% of the time as I write this), try to SH fair with cstick and then get the double jump (I can't do that yet).

- FH Double Fair

Practice doing full hops and then doing fair twice. The point here is to learn the timing for how soon you can do the second fair after the first one. It's not something that's hard, but you do need to practice and learn that timing. Practicing it separately will be helpful. You should also practice other aerials this way just to learn really accurately when you can do a second one. Learning how long your moves last is important and worth practicing for each move individually.

- SH Double Fair

Then, finally, after you progress through all those steps, you can work on SH double fair. That means you do a SH, then you do fair twice before you land. To succeed at this, you need to do the first fair extremely fast after jumping, even faster than any of the things you practiced above. Then you have to do the second fair with good timing as soon as it's possible.

To do a SH double fair correctly, you need to be 6 frames faster than SH, fair, double jump. Fair can hit the opponent on the 4th frame through the 7th frame. Double jump comes out in 1 frame (I think). So suppose you SH, fair, and then you double jump on your last frame in the air. To do a second fair instead, you'd need to be 6 frames faster so you'd have 7 frames of airtime left instead of 1. Then you'd be able to replace the double jump with the second fair and have enough time for it to fully complete the part of the move that can hit the opponent.

The point here isn't just to teach you to SH double fair with Marth. The bigger point is to show you how to practice things step by step and work your way up, a little at a time. Instead of failing to SH double fair over and over, it's better to gradually start with something a lot easier and then keep progressing to slightly harder things. It's a lot more fun to practice when you're learning new things, successfully, as you go along.

Whatever you want to learn, for whatever character, try to figure out a series of small steps that can help you build up to it. Commonly people recommend pressing the buttons slowly at first and then speeding up. That is great advice but there's other ways to practice too.

All the information in this post, I basically had to figure out myself (except the frame data). No one told me to try practicing bairs fast enough I would turn around. But I find it really helpful as an intermediate step. I hope some Marths find this helpful, and also everyone understands the method of creating a gradual progression of small steps to practice. Most melee training information doesn't cover little things this basic, like I never ever heard anyone say "practice doing SH fair fast enough you land without going into recovery from attacking", but I think it's a really useful idea. So hopefully this will encourage a lot of really new players who are struggling. By breaking things down into smaller steps like this, you'll be able to see your progress and succeed one step at a time.

For part 2 at my blog, click here. It provides another example with the same philosophical point.

For all parts beyond 2, and some people's helpful replies, see my thread at Smashboards.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Message (1)

SSBM Training 2: Reverse Dolphin Slash

Marth's reverse Dolphin Slash (up-B) is an important technique which people tell you to learn how to do. They're right. But I tried to do it, and I couldn't. There are a couple key things I figured out that really helped. I want to share them.

The inputs are simple. You do up-B, and then during the startup frames (a very small time window), you press left (if you were facing to the right). This press to the left has to be done very fast. I won't discuss why this technique is useful, other people have done that. I just want to talk about how to do it.

Also, just to be clear, you can face right and hold up-left, and then hit B, and you will do the Dolphin Slash behind you and turn around. None of the information I've read is really clear about this, but I'm pretty sure reverse Dolphin Slash is different and requires doing it the hard way of up-B first and then press behind you second, separately.

At first I thought the problem is that my hands are slow. I'll just try it more and try to do it super fast, and then hopefully I'll get it. Well, I didn't get it. I went in Training Mode and tried in slow motion to make sure I was doing the inputs right. It worked. But at regular speed I was hopeless.

Then one day, I had a thought. You know what would save time? Don't push the dstick all the way up.

So I tried doing up-B, all by itself, without pressing the dstick all the way. And I found you only have to press it a tiny bit further than for up-tilt, but really not very far. Only a fraction of the way up is far enough.

The main reason I couldn't do it is because I was pressing the dstick all the way up, then pressing it to the side. And that takes too long. Maybe if you play in tournaments and you're really good, you could press it all the way up and still be fast enough. But I sure can't.

Well, once I had this insight, I was able to do reverse Dolphin Slash successfully about half the time in only 10 minutes of practice.

But I didn't just start doing it. I practiced an intermediate step that I think was a really good idea. If any guide had told me to practice it this way, it would have really helped me.

Press the dstick up half way. Hold it there. Now if you hit B, you will Dolphin Slash. Try it. So now instead of pressing up-B for dolphin slash, you start with half the work done, you just have to press B. Now do this: press B then, almost at the same time, press left (if facing right. press behind you).

When I just tried to hit up-B then left, it was so hard, I couldn't do it. But when I held up and then tried to hit B and left, it was so much easier, I could do it pretty much right away. It's not that hard to do one thing with your right thumb and one with your jump thumb, and do them very close together. Doing two things with your left thumb and something with your right, and coordinating the timing, that's hard. But only one thing with each thumb isn't too hard.

So practice that a bunch and you can learn the timing of when to hit left relative to when to hit B. Without a bunch of stress and failure. You can learn part of the technique by itself without having to be able to do the whole thing.

Once you're good at that, then practice the dstick motion without B. Press it up only a little of the way, definitely not all the way up, and then jam it left hard and quick. And practice it to the right also.

When that feels OK, then try another small step. Press up a little ways, pause for a split second, then press B and left. So it's like doing it with up already pressed, but instead of just holding up and not thinking about it, you do the up press only a moment early, so it isn't totally separate.

Once you can do that, then try to do the whole thing. And because of all the little steps you did, I bet you'll be able to do it sometimes. Not all the time, but sometimes. And once you can do something 5% of the time, then you have a good start and you just practice more and increase that percent. Whereas if you can't do it at all, it's hard to get started and you'll need some easier steps.

So you press up a little ways and B, and then hard left. It won't work every time. You'll get some neutral B (Shield Breaker) and some side B (Sword Dance) at first. But now you should have a good enough idea of how to do it that you can practice until you get it consistent. These little steps to work up to it will get your foot in the door and make the technique approachable.

Again, I'd like you to learn not just how to reverse Dolphin Slash, but also how to approach learning anything that's hard to get started with. This is both a specific example that will help Marth players, but also it's about the method of how to learn.

For part 1 at my blog, click here.

For all parts, and some people's helpful replies, see my thread at Smashboards.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

Hardness, Emotions, Mental Automation

On FI, someone keeps asking how to feel that one is overreaching. Shouldn't there be an emotion to tell you what's going on?

No. Emotions are software, developed by our culture (mostly thousands of years ago). It's kind of like: every minute, or when something notable happens, that software runs through a checklist of 5000 things. If one is going on, it runs through another checklist with more detailed stuff for that issue. The results of the software analysis is presented in a short summary which we call an "emotion".

Our emotion software doesn't know about all situations or issues. It knows about a lot of stuff but not everything. There aren't emotions for everything. There's no reason it'd have to cover everything. It's not complete. Even if people had ten times as many emotions it still wouldn't be complete.

If there was an emotion for everything, emotions would be useless. A summary has to condense information. Emotions are focused on areas our culture considers important. They're selective. They prioritize. They help direct our attention to what matters. If there were emotions for everything, they wouldn't be a summary anymore, and they wouldn't be worth paying attention to. You'd have to have a second layer of software that screens the emotions for the ones you consider important and ignores the rest. If you want information about everything, use your eyes and ears, they are better at doing that type of thing (you won't see infrared but eyes are much less about summarizing than emotions are, they are more about giving you a reasonably complete picture of what's in front of you).

The whole concept of expecting an automatic response or indication of a situation, whether emotional or not, doesn't make sense. You have that for many things but not all things. Such responses have to come from somewhere, they don't just exist automatically in all cases.

With that out of the way, the best indication of overreaching is hardness. When something feels hard, maybe you're overreaching. Feeling confused or overwhelmed are other relevant indicators. These aren't about overreaching but they have some overlap. They're in the right ballpark.

The feeling of hardness indicates inefficiency.

People are confused about hardness partly because there are two types. Hardness-A is an evaluation of the issue in general. Hardness-B is the feeling, it's about a person's experience. Hence people do hard things and say "it was easy for me". Touch typing is fairly hard. It takes practice. It's a skill you have to develop. But it's easy for me. I do it without thinking. It doesn't require conscious attention. I used to experience it as being difficult, but I don't now.

The same is true of walking. There was a time in my life when I couldn't walk and I had to learn how. Most ways of using leg muscles do not result in walking, they result in falling. Only some specific actions succeed as walking and staying balanced. And people have tried to write software to make a robot walk around and they've found that's difficult.

Speaking English is hard. There are thousands of words to learn, each with a spelling and a pronunciation and at least one definition. There are grammar rules and exceptions. There are different forms of words with similar but different meanings, e.g. "hammer", "hammered", "hammering", "hammers", "hammer-like". But once you get used to English enough, it can feel easy, intuitive and second-nature.

It's the same with chess. The better you get at chess, the better you can autopilot it and play without trying very hard. Chess players have a skill level they can play at when trying hard, and a separate, lower skill level they can play at when taking it easy. The skill level for taking it easy isn't usually far behind – a top player can easily beat a good player. In other words, trying hard doesn't make a big difference. A top 1% player when trying his best is still a top 2% player when not trying very hard. Trying hard at chess does make a big difference when playing serious tournament games against players of similar skill, but it wouldn't make any difference against most opponents.

Trying hard is a big effort for small results. That's an inefficient use of effort. 10% of the effort lets a chess player achieve 90% of his maximum skill. Then trying ten times harder only adds a one ninth increase in skill. It makes sense to try hard in a competition where only the best player wins and everyone is trying their best, but it usually doesn't make sense to do that in life in general. And all this applies to many other examples besides chess.

Trying hard means you're not autopiloting. You're using conscious attention, which is a limited resource. You're using focus and mental energy and creativity and that kind of stuff. And, in general, people can do that for around 2 or 3 hours per day. They can do more in the short term but it leads to burnout if they keep it up over time. (For knowledge workers, the 8 hour work day is a myth. For chess players, they focus longer when competing, but they don't compete on most days.)

Trying hard means working at the edge of your abilities with less margin for error. It means more mistakes are made. It means you're trying to do things that you don't know an easy way to do. It means trying to do things you can't do habitually, can't do while multitasking, can't do while not at your best.

Most of our life is automated. Our minds are complicated and do tons of stuff. Our consciousness is like a factory manager who can go around and inspect any one workstation at a time and make changes, but the work in the factory always keeps going everywhere else. Hard stuff is stuff that only the manager can do, there's no workstation to do it. Doing hard stuff means the manager is busy and can't go around inspecting and improving the workstations in the factory, nor creating new ones. Some people don't notice the loss because their manager (conscious mind) is usually mostly idle anyway, rather than going around checking for problems. If you have a lazy manager who wasn't going to do much anyway, then keeping him busy doesn't appear to have much downside. It's still bad though: a busy manager isn't going to reform. Keeping the manager distracted from the ongoing, unsolved problems is not how to change things so that he becomes a better manager.

In general in life, you need to figure out easy, repeatable, low-error ways to do things, then automate them (add them as workstations in your mental factory that can keep producing even when the manager isn't there). Adding more of those is how you get a lot done in life. Having your manager do any work himself is a huge loss of productivity. Your manager can do the work of, like, three workstations. Maybe even ten. He's really good at stuff compared to the automated processes (which you can think of like robots or low skilled workers). But in the long run, having your manager do the work of even a hundred workstations is a terrible deal. It makes way more sense for him to help set up thousands or millions of workstations. Much more will get done if he doesn't do it. (Also, remember, if the manager works more than three hours a day, that's overtime and he starts getting tired.)

Stuff feels hard when your manager has to do it instead of a workstation doing it. You don't know how to do it using only the sorts of cheap, plentiful mental resources that form automatic workstations.

People are confused because having their manager do something is a common step in workstation setup. First you figure out how to do something using conscious attention and maximum focus. If you can do it at all, that's a good step one. Then you figure out how to do it more easily and reliably. Then you get good at it to the point it's easy and automatic/intuitive/second-nature.

But doing something for the purpose of learning and setting up an automatic workstation, and doing it to get it done, are different things. The goal matters to how its done. Like, is the manager taking notes on how he does it so that he can then hand off the job to an unskilled worker later? Is he looking for what could be automated, as he goes along? Is he trying to figure out how to break down the task into small, simple parts that could be handled by dumb workers or robots? Doing those things helps work towards a day when the manager can stop being involved and delegate everything – which means he can move on to new projects.

On the other hand, sometimes people think they will only do something once, so they don't worry about any of that stuff, they just try to get it done and even getting the manager to do it a second time would be hard (they have no notes, they don't even know exactly what they did, they just fiddled with stuff until it worked and they lost track of some of their actions).

And sometimes people think automating something is too hard, so they won't bother. Right now, the easiest thing to do is get it done without worrying about the future. Figuring out how to automate stuff is extra work. Then they do the same thing again the next day, and the next, and they keep wasting manager effort and never get a workstation created. (This is more common with things that come up sporadically, e.g. every few weeks, but sometimes people do it with daily tasks.) Or sometimes people partially automate a task, e.g. typing, but they never fully automate it, it's always a bit of work and a bit distracting.

People talk about inspiration and perspiration. But it should be inspiration and automation. Instead of working hard, figure out how the great new idea can be done easily and repeatedly.

A big obstacle to automation is errors. Every time something goes wrong, the low skill workers or robots at the workstation can't do much troubleshooting. They aren't very creative. They'll go through a checklist of troubleshooting steps if their manager told them to (that's highly recommended!). If that doesn't work, then either the manager has to come along and fix things (like if a machine is broken), or else they can throw out that work product and start over (if only half of the things the workstation produces actually work, it can still produce stuff, although there better be some quality control steps to actually find the broken ones and get rid of them).

Automating requires figuring out how to do stuff in a highly reliable way with a low error rate. You have to figure out not just a method to accomplish a task, but an easy, reliable method that doesn't have many ways to fail. If every step is easy, and that are steps to check for problems and standard ways to fix them, then it can work pretty well and the manager doesn't have to be called in very often to clean up a mess. That's good if your goal is to get millions of workstations running, with just one manager, so that you can get a lot done in life. And yes millions is realistic.

Your brain is a computer. It's a more powerful computer than my iMac. My iMac can do around four billion CPU cycles per second, and each cycle can get several small tasks done. If the average workstation involves a million small tasks to complete one work product, and I have a million workstations, then they might all be able to average a work product completion every 10 seconds, while all running simultaneously. That's the ballpark of how powerful the brain is. And it's better to have a billion workstations and turn some on and off – some are general purpose, but most are only used when doing a specific kind of activity, e.g. a workstation that is only used when playing or thinking about chess. (Figuring out more general purpose workstations helps keep things manageable – it means you need fewer total workstations and you can get stuff done with fewer running at once. Thinking in a more principled way can mean a hundred million workstations, with a million on at a time, instead of a hundred billion workstations with ten million on at a time.)

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (4)

Mario Odyssey Discussion

This topic is for discussing Super Mario Odyssey (for Nintendo Switch).

Speedrunning this game is a good way to learn for people who have a hard time learning (~everyone) and who already like video games.

Single player games are best because you don't have to deal with other people. Other people are complicated and dealing with them is a big issue which distracts from the gameplay.

Single player games are mostly too easy. They don't challenge you enough. Speedrunning solves that problem by giving you a goal to work towards where taking on extra challenges gets you better results.

Mario Odyssey is a popular, modern game (in general and specifically for speedrunning) which is highly accessible (both for regular play and speedrunning). It has video guides for speedrunning, various speedrunners who stream on Twitch, and plenty of walkthroughs for regular play. It can easily be broken up into small parts to learn about one at a time, and you can practice a few minutes at a time and then pause. It's complex enough to have depth without being too complicated. It doesn't have much randomness or AI to deal with. It has some glitches but not a ton, and you don't need to do any until you're a very advanced speedrunner. The any% speedrun is a good length. Those are some reasons it's a good game choice. It's also beneficially if a bunch of philosophy-interested people play the same game so they can discuss it, so don't choose a different game that seems a little more appealing to you, it'd only make sense to play a different game if it was a lot better for you for some reason.

(Mario Odyssey has few downsides. The biggest one is it uses motion controls some. It also takes more work to record videos of console gameplay than Mac or PC gameplay, and you need a Switch.)

By playing Mario Odyssey, you can learn what it's like to get good and something and succeed. You can see how practice works and things that used to be hard become easy. Learn to practice efficiently. Learn to write down notes, to review videos (like other people's speedruns) and get useful help from them, and learn to remember a bunch of information. You can see what correcting errors is like. You can see what getting details right is like and succeed with high quality standards. You can see how to build up your skills. First you learn how to do basic movement. Then you practice until it doesn't take much attention anymore. Then you can learn harder combinations of movement which build on the basic things. Now that the basic things are easy for you, your attention is free to focus on combined sequences.

Speedrunning gives you clear metrics for success and failure, which makes it much easier to learn. Did you reach the location you were trying to jump to or fall down? What does the timer say about what you're doing? One of the main reasons people have trouble learning philosophy, and many other things, is because they don't know when they're doing it right or not. They want to fix their errors, but they don't know which things are errors and which are correct. With speedrunning, you can also compare what you did to videos of what faster runners and figure out specifically how your approach is inferior (so you don't just know that you made an error, you also can get good info about what to do differently).

Overall, doing everything may not be easy, but it's easier than learning philosophy. So if you're having a hard time learning philosophy, like most people, this is an easier place to begin. You can work on your ability to learn, find and fix errors, not get frustrated, be persistent over time, and so on, without the added difficulty of trying to understand hard philosophy ideas at the same time. Practice learning with something easier than philosophy so you aren't doing everything at once. And then, in the future, when you learn philosophy ideas about how to learn, you'll be able apply them to examples from your Mario Odyssey experience. This is something lots of people can do well, it doesn't take a "genius" (philosophy doesn't take a "genius" either but many people think it does).

You have to learn the game before you speedrun it. That's step one. Play it normally first and get used to it. If you start getting bored playing normally, or finish everything, then switch to practicing the speedrun.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (237)

Achieving Mastery When Learning, Plus Followups

I shared writing about mastery with my free email newsletter and asked about people’s concerns and objections. Here’s what I said followed by my responses to three concerns.


(Link to the message where I first wrote this.)

[name], do you think you achieved mastery of some significant, new things in your makeup project? If so, you could list those. If not, I think you should have higher standards and stop overreaching.

Can you self-evaluate the correctness of any of your new makeup knowledge with similar confidence to your self-evaluations of counting to three or judging whether the word "with" is spelled correctly? Those are examples of what mastery looks like.

The same goes for all your other philosophical work. Keep it simpler. Practice things. Aim for mastery. Aim for a low error rate where correct criticisms are uncommon, surprising and treasured.

Consider what you do have mastery of and build on it. Plan out projects intentionally with goals and trees, keeping issues like mastery and overreaching in mind.

Where are the 5+ successful past projects at 90% of the size, complexity and difficulty of the makeup project? And at 80%, and 70%, and 60%, etc., all the way back incrementally to simple projects like crawling to a location as a baby.

You don't have good examples of what success looks [to] compare your project to. There's a huge gap from the makeup project to your most similar projects that are clear, confident, decisive, unambiguous successes.

And these are not new things that I'm saying.

Start way smaller, get quick, clear wins, and iterate. Start with multiple successful (micro) projects per day. Finish 100+ in a month with a not-decisive-clear-success rate under 10%. Establish a baseline of what you can do that way and get the iteration started.


Anne B shared these concerns on the FI Learning Basecamp.

I have a hard time breaking a goal down into a planned-out tree made of smaller things that are easy wins. Example:I have a goal of understanding computers and learning how to use them better. Breaking that down into a plan of all the small things I want to learn and in what order seems too hard. Instead I take opportunities to learn small things when they come up.

Do smaller, easier mini-goals first until you get more experience with the method. For example, “Install Atom text editor” is a mini-goal. I bet you could break that into multiple steps. E.g.:

  1. Find Atom website.
  2. Download Atom.
  3. Run installer.

You need practice doing that kind of breakdown successfully before expecting it to work in more complicated scenarios. Once you get good enough at it, in the future, you’ll be able to skip writing down the steps for small things like installing Atom. And when you’re more used to breaking things into sub-parts, you’ll do better at breaking down bigger, harder goals.

It’s important not to face too many challenges at once. Each one distracts you from the others. Mastery of something means it’s no longer distracting or challenging. Practicing breaking simple projects into steps will help you achieve mastery of some breaking-into-parts skills, which will mean you’ll have fewer things to worry about when attempting a medium-difficulty project.

You could do several other small projects, e.g. one to use Atom documents. Steps:

  • Make a document in Atom
  • Save it
  • Close the document and close Atom
  • Reopen the document with Atom

Another project could deal with bold text. Steps:

  • Make some text bold using the menu.
  • Use a hotkey to make text bold.
  • Make text bold by typing in markdown formatting characters.
  • Remove bold text using each method.

If those are too hard, you could break each of those steps down into easier parts. You can adjust the level of detail. If they were too easy you could use fewer steps, e.g. just “Learn Atom basics”, but that’s unsuitable for figuring out how to deal with projects.

After doing the atom install project, the atom document project, the atom bold text project, and several others, you would have done the steps of a larger project like “learn Atom basics”. Small projects are the components that make up medium and large projects. If you’re trying to do a large project and don’t know what the smaller sub-projects are, it’s hard to be organized or succeed.

Are you saying we should aim for mastery in everything we do? If not, how do we decide which things to go for mastery in? If yes, that seems like too much—wouldn’t we sometimes want to just try something out to see how it goes and whether we like it?

Mastery is important for things you’re gong to reuse a bunch and build on. English, walking, basic arithmetic, typing, searching the internet for info, learning methods and project management are good examples. Those get used over and over as sub-components of other tasks and projects.

Mastery is necessary to do anything complicated. Complicated things have many parts. If each part is distracting you from the others and demanding significant attention, then you’ll be overwhelmed and fail. If you have mastery of some parts, that means you can deal with those parts without them being a distraction. Mastery means something requires little conscious attention, which frees up your attention for other stuff. Without mastery, you can only do small things.

Put another way, mastery is necessary for making progress because progress involves accumulating more and more knowledge. You also revise ideas, replace ideas with more elegant versions, and drop some errors, but overall, on average, the amount of knowledge goes up when you make progress.

Increasing amounts of knowledge would get overwhelming if all the older ideas were taking up your attention or causing many errors. The reason you’re able to increase your total knowledge is because you finished learning some things: they’re done and no longer take much thought (unless you reopen and reconsider the issue, which is always an option but shouldn’t happen too often). Mastery is finishing learning something instead of it being an unfinished project.

How done is done? When are you finished? When you can use the knowledge without it requiring much conscious attention and with few errors.

How much attention or errors are OK? It depends on the thing. The more it gets reused or built on, the closer to perfect it needs to be. If it’s only used occasionally, it can be more flawed but still good enough.

Side note: You can also intentionally stop learning something so it requires your conscious attention to do it, but while paying full attention you can do it successfully. That means you can’t build on it. It’s an end to progress (unless you start learning about it again). But that is reasonable in certain circumstances. E.g. suppose you have a job operating heavy machinery. If you pay full attention every time you do it, and do it successfully, that’s good enough. You don’t need to make further progress to get the job done. And actually it’s dangerous to operate heavy machinery without paying conscious attention to what you’re doing at all times. It’d be bad to go into autopilot mode for that or focus your attention elsewhere. (BTW, a lot of car accidents are due to people achieving a lot of mastery of driving and then not paying enough attention to their driving. Due to mastery they can still generally drive well without paying attention, so it works out fine most of the time, but not every time. Also, btw, a reason texting-and-driving is so dangerous, or using audio books while driving, is due to lack of mastery of texting or audio books. Those things distract people significantly, or in other words they don’t have mastery over those activities.)

To have a thousand ideas and for that to be useful, many of them need to be mastered. You can only fit at most around seven non-mastered ideas in your head at once for active use. (Seven is just a loose estimate that other people like Leonard Peikoff have used; the specific number doesn’t matter.) If you want to fit more in your head, you have to master ideas. In other words, you can only effectively pay conscious attention to at most around seven things at once, so, to deal with more than seven things, some must not require conscious attention, which is what mastery is about.

This is also why it’s important to integrate (combine) ideas. E.g. you take four ideas and turn them into one single conceptual unit, which can then be thought about as one thing that uses up only one slot in your attention. But integration only works well when you master the components. If they aren’t mastered, you can’t focus on the one higher level concept because the underlying ideas that you’re building on will keep causing trouble. You’ll make mistakes while using them and/or they’ll distract your conscious attention, because you never finished learning them to the point (called “mastery” among other things) where that won’t happen.

Integration is one of the main ways we reuse and build on ideas. All the small ideas that got integrated into higher level ideas are getting reused in some sense every time a higher level idea that’s built on them is used. Repeated integration creates a pyramid of ideas, and using a single high level idea can reuse hundreds of lower level ideas. But if any low level idea in the pyramid has an error or won’t work without conscious attention, it can screw up your high level activity.

Integration is discussed and advocated by Ayn Rand’s Objectivism.

You don’t need to master everything that’s available and you should not take on large projects without first exploring/scouting and having a pretty good idea of whether it’ll work, whether you want the results, etc. But you do need to master most of what you learn if you want to make ongoing progress.

Having criticisms be uncommon isn’t a very good gauge. Criticisms could be uncommon because there’s not much to criticize or they could be uncommon for other reasons (maybe there’s so much wrong that people don’t know where to start in their criticisms, maybe people are busy with other stuff, maybe people are afraid you won’t take criticism well, maybe people don’t like to criticize because it’s not nice, maybe your stuff is boring so no one reads it).

Criticism being uncommon is a necessary but not sufficient condition for indicating mastery.

Also, you’re focusing on external criticism, but self-criticism is a more important thing to pay attention to first and it doesn’t have most of the difficulties you mention. It’s very hard to use much external criticism effectively before being pretty good with self-criticism (that’s one of the main reasons people dislike receiving criticism so much – they aren’t able to use it effectively because they aren’t good at self-criticism yet).

That’s similar to an issue that came up on FI list a while back: it’s very hard to find common preferences with your child effectively if you struggle to find common preferences with yourself. Individual, personal stuff mostly needs to come first before dealing with other people much.

If this interests you, and you'd like to better understand ideas like this, join my free Basecamp group.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Message (1)

Learning with Easy Steps in Vindictus

This is reposted from a blog comment I wrote in 2019. On FI, Kate asked about my Hardness, Emotions, Mental Automation post:

I think the meaning of hard/easy used in the statement is the second one, i.e. hard/easy for me (now). Whether or not something is also considered inherently hard doesn’t matter. The key is whether it’s currently hard for you — whether your manager is going to have to do it.

It’s still unclear to me whether “only do things which are easy" is suggesting that people not try to fix irrational thinking methods or figure out how to use FI if they consider those things to be hard.

there is a learning/doing distinction. first you learn how to do something, say dentistry, then you do it (fill cavities, etc). so one of the meanings is you should learn enough that dentistry is easy before it's your job. don't learn enough you can do it, learn enough that it is now easy. dentists should have mastery so they can do it with a low error rate (and VERY LOW rate of major errors) even when tired, distracted, unfocused, etc.

and also the learning process shouldn't really be hard. say you're trying to beat a level in a video game. if your goal is "beat the level" then that's hard. but that's about doing, not learning. if your goal is "try strategy X and see if it works or not", that could be a step towards learning to beat the level which is also easy. if strategy X is too hard, then you could have easy immediate goals like "try action X1" and "try action X2" and so on – try out individual parts of it before trying to do the whole thing.

in Vindictus (example gameplay video) there are lots of boss fights you can do by yourself and get a gold medal for being hit 3 times or fewer. success is hard in some sense. but the learning process doesn't have to involve hard steps. first you can just stand there and let the boss hit you and watch what he does. that's easy! after you watch a bit, you can start to figure out what his attacks are. lots of the bosses only have like 5 different attacks. if remembering is hard you can write them down. you can even record video clips of each attack. that's more work but it isn't hard. so this step of seeing what the attacks are can be pretty easy, especially if you aren't rushing yourself. like if you are trying to remember every attack after you've seen it once, that's hard. but if you take your time and are OK with remembering an attack after seeing it 10 times, then it's not very hard.

the next step is blocking/dodging attacks (each character in the game has a few defensive options, mostly dodges and blocks). you can figure this out without doing anything hard, too. for each boss attack, try your first defensive move at various different timings. you can get a good idea of the right timing by letting the boss hit you and seeing what you take damage. your defensive move should generally be used around .5 seconds before the time you took damage, though it varies by move. if this isn't working well, try your character's second and third defensive moves and see if they work better for dealing with this attack.

many boss attacks have multiple parts. like they swing their sword 3 times in a row, and it's a set pattern of those 3 swings. so you can figure out a series of 2-3 defensive moves to defend against all 3 sword swings. (sometimes attacks come close together and you can stop multiple attacks with one defense.)

for each attack, there is some kind of clue that it's coming. the main clues are animations like a boss moves his sword or shoulders back before swinging forward. you see them getting ready to attack in some way. so you also need to learn some kinda thing that you will react to – the signal that it's time to do that defensive pattern for that move.

this can all be done pretty intuitively but it can also be done by conscious design and you write a list of every attack, every signal its coming, and what defensive moves you plan to use for that attack.

which part of that is hard? no part. if you do it in this methodical way, every part is easy. it's not like you need super fast reactions times. the game isn't hard in that way. if you calmly watch for the signal that a specific attack is coming, and you aren't worrying about anything else, then you can block/dodge it with a bit of practice, it's not that hard (and if a different attack happens first you just let it hit you and wait until the boss does the one you're trying to stop).

the individual parts of the game aren't that hard. but the complexity adds up when you're watching for 10 different possible attacks (on the harder, more complicated bosses) while also doing your attacks and also there are other allies on your team who the boss might target (if the boss does a move aimed at you, or aimed at a guy off to your right, then the patterns of blocks and dodges that protect you, and the timing to do them, can be different. where the boss is aiming changes where his sword ends up at different times.) and also you can be remembering to drink health potions every 4 seconds and use your cat statue every 70 seconds and tracking how much SP you have (points for doing special moves) and then managing which special moves to use, when, and so on. and then your ally dies and you want to go resurrect him but that requires standing still for 3 seconds so you have to find a safe time to do that between boss attacks. etc.

but basically all of that can be learned as a sequence of easy steps, too.

once you learn to defend attacks you practice until it becomes more of an automatic habit. you get it to the point its easy to do all the attacks for a boss, it's second nature, its intuitive, your error rate is low. then you try attacking in between the bosses attacks. you'll already have a sense of how much downtime there is after which attacks since you've seen them a bunch. so you can estimate how big of an attack you can fit in after each boss attack, and you try it out and see what works. that's assuming you can already do your attacks easily. if you can't, no problem, you just practice attacking without worrying about defense (initially just do this in an empty area with no enemies). and then practice on easy enemies where getting hit isn't a big deal, so even if your error rate for defense is high, cuz you're focused on attacking, it doesn't matter much.

before you actually use your attacking or defending as a skill – before you try to DO it for real instead of doing it in a learning/practicing context – you need to get it to be easy, you master it so an automatic mental workstation can do it. so by the time you're trying to kill the boss, you have all the skills needed to do it, and it isn't scary or hard like it would be if you just went up to him the first time and tried to win.

and after you practice, you still don't expect to win. if your goal was to go straight from practice to success then that'd be hard. instead, you practice and then you try fighting the boss for real as a test to see how well you do. you're checking how effective your practice was, what your error rate currently is. that's easy cuz the goal isn't "make no errors", the goal is "see how many errors i make". so you do the blocking and attacking in easy, automated ways, which is important cuz now your conscious attention is mostly used for just watching to see how often you screw up. that's not a hard thing to do! you just autopilot attacking and defending while consciously watching how well it works. that's it. ez. then you can see if you need more practice, and if so for which parts. and you can also identify problems like a particular strategy for blocking a particular move is unreliable, so maybe you need more practice or maybe you need to change the strategy – do a different defensive option or do the first block after an earlier visual cue. there are other errors you'll see happen, like a boss can have two different attacks that look similar at first, so you mix them up and sometimes you do the defense for attack 1 when the boss is doing attack 2, so it doesn't work. so while you're autopiloting and seeing how it goes, you can watch for issues like that with your conscious attention, and then you can figure out a solution, like you can look at the attacks more closely until you find a difference which is pretty easy for you to recognize once you know what to look for, and then you can start looking for that and, with a little practice, autopilot doing that. or you can also find a defensive option that works for the first part of both attacks, so it's ok if you don't know which is which until you're doing the second defensive move.

people find the game hard cuz they are trying to e.g. do lots of attacking right now instead of just focusing their attention on defense. or they never practice alone, they just fight in groups where other people are always moving the boss around and creating chaos, and everyone is rushing to keep up with everyone else on doing damage. and if you are just less ambitious in the short term, you can make tons of stuff way easier. i was having trouble with some bosses in the last two days and what i started doing is only using my simplest attack which takes the shortest time. that immediately solved the problem of doing an attack that is too long and then i'm not ready to defend against the boss's next attack. and it meant attacking took even less attention and i could focus on defense more. the downside is that the simplest, fastest attack does the lowest damage. but so what? a bit of patience made it way easier and actually saved time overall (cuz it takes longer to kill the boss, but fewer retries, so actually that saves time). that works great on bosses where my goal is to get the gold medal one time – if it's 5 minutes slower but saves some retries that's fine. i don't need efficient offense for a boss where i just want one good kill. there are other bosses that you fight more often so you want to learn to do your offense more efficiently, but it's not needed in all cases. (also part of the issue is some of the old bosses i was fighting, which i only needed one good kill on, actually have different designs than some of the modern bosses that people fight more. some of them actually have overly short windows for you to attack during if you are playing alone. it's fine if you play with an ally cuz then half the time the boss attacks the ally and you can just go stand behind the boss and have time to attack. but for certain heroes, soloing some of the old bosses involves shorter attack windows than you're used to with the modern bosses, so partly you just need to be willing to use your small attacks and be content with that. and if you had to fight that boss every day it'd be annoying, but you don't, and the newer bosses you fight more often have some larger downtime parts built in, on purpose, to let you do your big attacks sometimes.)

the point of this example is if you approach things step by step, every step can be easy. cuz you have a specific goal in the current step which is not big picture success, and you just do that.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

Learning to Mastery and Repetition

I originally wrote this to the Fallible Ideas email list in 2019.

every adult learned some stuff to the point of MASTERY – very low attention needed, can do it great while tired/low-focus/low-effort, very low error rate, etc.

like walking. and talking. and reading. and, for many people, basic arithmetic. and, for many people, the year WWII ended and the number of states in the US and the number of original colonies (they don’t have to stop and think about those things, they just know, instantly).

doesn’t work in all contexts. giving a speech or walking on ice are different. but that’s ok. they know that. they pay more attention in those contexts. they understand pretty well what is mastered and what isn’t.

there are generic things that ~everyone gains mastery over, like walking. and there are generic things that lots of ppl gain mastery over, like some basic arithmetic.

and there are other things that only a few ppl gain mastery over. like i mastered tons of chess skills. lots of stuff is automated to the point where i can play good chess moves in under 1 second. and i could still mostly do that even though i quit chess many years ago – like i’d be worse now, and rusty, but still worlds better than a beginner. and giving me 10 minutes to think about a move right now, vs. 10 seconds, still wouldn’t make a ton of difference. the skill i still have is still mostly automatic. (when i was actively playing, 10 seconds vs. 10 minutes also wasn’t a huge difference. it matters, especially when playing someone who is very similar skill level to you, but over 90% of your skill works within 10 seconds, and the extra 10min of thought only adds a bit extra.) btw i haven’t mastered chess as a whole, i just have mastery over lots of pieces of chess to the point that i’m a good player as a whole but certainly not the best. mastery doesn’t mean perfection overall, it can just mean mastering a specific piece of something, or sub-skill, and then you have mastery over that piece. mastery is about getting something to the point of it being really automatic – very low error rate while using very little conscious attention.

some ppl get really good at an instrument or a sport or many other things.

but most stuff that ppl master, they master in childhood. and they don’t remember the learning process very well. and so, as adults, they don’t have a good example to refer to for how to learn. they haven’t mastered anything recently.

most adults either learned to touch type as a kid or they still aren’t great at it. actually mastering it as an adult is uncommon.

Dennis replied:

I agree wholeheartedly. It's a really rewarding experience to have learned something new and somewhat mastered it as an adult. It's a neat way to reward one's future self. I still thank myself for teaching myself to 10 finger touch type last year. Somehow I had gotten by using just three or four fingers over the years, and this is just so much better now.

My original email continued:

so one of the things i recommend ppl do is master something. learn something. see how learning works. doesn’t matter what it is. just gotta succeed. it shouldn’t be very hard. don’t make philosophy be the first thing you learn really well in the last 20 years. that’s ridiculous. learn something easier for practice. you can learn a bit of philosophy but don’t go for mastery until you master some easier stuff.

the best thing to master, in general, for practice, is a video game. there are lots of options but video games have a lot of very good characteristics. but if you don’t like them, or you have something else that you really wanna use, you can consider alternatives. i have explained in the past what’s good about video games, what kinda characteristics to look for in something to master, and written about many game examples.

what lots of ppl do is learn stuff a little bit, halfway, don’t master it, and move on. then repeat.

so, yet again, i advise ppl to learn a video game to get a feel for mastery and how learning works. or master something else. but no one listens to me. to the extent anyone else here plays video games, they don’t stream it on twitch, they don’t master it, they don’t talk about it much, and they aren’t very good.

Dennis replied:

In one of Popper's essays I read the other day he talks about the difference between creative learning (ie problem solving) and learning by repetition. [...]

Do you differentiate at all between the two modes of learning? I've been wondering about Popper's remark about learning by repetition. He seems to claim that its akin to induction, but induction is impossible, so... how could anyone learn by repetition? Also, I doubt people actually have two different modes of learning. [...]

I replied:

You can’t learn merely by repetition, you have to think about what will and won’t work. Repeating can’t figure out solutions and can’t do anything to find or correct errors.

Some of my examples are simpler because people should master some easier things before aiming for some harder ones. There has to be a progression.

In order to effectively think creatively about chess strategies, you can’t be too distracted by remembering how the pieces move. Practice does help automate one’s understanding of the piece movement rules. But practice isn’t just about repeating things, you think through what the rule for moving a piece is and figure out where it can go – it gets actual conscious attention when you’re learning it. You couldn’t just repeat correct piece movements without conscious attention, as a practice method, because you don’t know them well enough yet. (You could repeatedly move a rook back and forth between two adjacent squares, or something else simple, and thus make correct moves without thinking about it even though you don’t know the piece moves well, but you wouldn’t learn much by doing that, that’d be bad practice.)

It’s the same with everything else. Interesting, creative conscious thought is always building on many layers of thinking that were conscious in the past but no longer require conscious attention – that attention is now freed up for more advanced things.

Learning touch typing requires directing conscious attention to doing it correctly, as well as some creative problem solving – identifying what you’re screwing up and figuring out how to fix it. Generally this means doing things slowly at first so you can get it correct even though you’re barely able to do it. Then you speed up a bit at a time and check for new errors happening due to going faster. Trying the same thing at successively faster speeds isn’t really repetition because the speed is changing. You do repeat a little because of variance – to find out if you are making mistakes at a new speed, you might need to do it 20 times, perhaps more, depending on what sort of error rate is acceptable. Doing it once at a new speed doesn’t mean you can do it reliably at that speed. The same method is common with instruments and many other things people learn.

Since there’s infinite potential progress, ideally ~all our current thinking would be so easy in the future that it takes almost no conscious attention, and we could consciously focus on more advanced things. I think this is an atypical goal, but important. I generally don’t regard things as finished if I can do them but it’s hard or slow or it only works 1 in 3 times (or even 99 out of 100 can be too low depending on what it is). As one example, I think it’s a travesty that most of the world’s so-called “intellectuals” can only read at 300 words per minute or fewer and aren’t trying to improve that, they think they’re done learning to read even though they do it slowly using lots of conscious attention.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

Henry Hazlitt on Practice

In Thinking as a Science (1916), Henry Hazlitt wrote (my emphasis):

The secret of practice is to learn thoroughly one thing at a time.

As already stated, we act according to habit. The only way to break an old habit or to form a new one is to give our whole attention to the process. The new action will soon require less and less attention, until finally we shall do it automatically, without thought—in short, we shall have formed another habit. This accomplished we can turn to still others.

I agree and have been advocating this for years. People learn to do something correctly, once, and then think they've learned it and they're done. But that's just the first step. For skills you'll use often, you should practice until you can do it cheaply, easily and reliably. E.g. it's important to be able to type using almost zero conscious attention so that I can focus my attention on the ideas I'm writing. It's best to think in an objective – not biased – way pretty much automatically in general so that you can focus on considering a specific topic (like economics); people who need to use a bunch of mental focus to avoid bias are at a big disadvantage because they have less attention left for the actual topic (and what often happens is, at some point, they focus their attention on the topic and then their habitual bias starts happening).

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

Learning and Unlearning Habits

When people learn a new computer game, what happens? Especially a pretty good gamer and a pretty fast paced game. He forms some habits. He learns to press certain combos of buttons. He learns to react in X way to Y situation. He learns some pattern recognition – for various patterns, start shooting. For various other patterns, start blocking. Stuff like that.

So he’s creating, in a matter of minutes, new habits, new automatic reactions, new intuitions, new things that are now second nature or intuitive and he can do them without much thought. You have to get the basics of the game to be like that so you can think about more advanced strategy. Just as we automate walking around in real life, we also need to automate walking around in video games so we can focus on other parts of the games. (btw sometimes ppl automate video game controls so much that they forget what the controls are. like you ask them how they did that, and they are like “uhhhh i hit the button, idk i didn’t think about it”. sometimes they have to like look at their hand to see what buttons they are pressing, or stop and remember the buttons, or something. it’s so automatic they aren’t thinking about it. it’s a little like asking a person which muscles he uses when walking, except less hard.)

ok so this video game player is creating habits/automazations/etc. and what always happens is: some are mistakes. so he has to unlearn some. he has to change some. some of his first guesses about how to play the game turn out wrong.

and that isn’t that big a deal. that’s just part of learning. you gotta do some unlearning too. video game players do that all the time. it’s so common.

sometimes you have to relearn things even if you didn’t make a mistake, btw. like you learn to beat a boss, then later there is a similar boss with some changes. so you take your old habits for the first boss and you make adjustments so they can work on the second boss. so in some situation, with the new boss, you have to stop yourself from doing Y after X, as you were in the habit of doing. you dismantle the habit that was automating that.

when people can’t dismantle or change automated habits it’s commonly an indication of irrationality, dishonesty, etc. it can also be an indication that the habit is used by a hundred other habits which rely on it, so it’s hard to mess with because of its complex involvement in lots of other stuff you don’t want to break. and ppl forget how habits work that they made long ago, especially in early childhood, which is what’s going on with some sexual orientation stuff (that’s in addition to the other things from earlier in this paragraph, it doesn’t have to be just one).

Mastery typically comes from practicing to the point that encountering new errors is rare, and you figured out solutions to all the errors you’ve seen before (except maybe a few rare ones that you decided to ignore). When nothing is gonna go wrong then you can go faster and it starts getting boring consciously (cuz there’s nothing left for your conscious mind to do, no changes are needed, no additional creativity is needed) and you stop paying conscious attention to it. (people often stop paying conscious attention way too early, btw, which prevents them actually getting good at stuff.)

The above were two sections of a Fallible Ideas email I wrote in 2019. I edited the term "workstation" to "habit" in a few places. I talked about mental workstations in this post, but "habit" is clearer for people who haven't read that. I was answering a question about firing workers at one's mental workstations (aka automatized ideas, aka habits) or dismantling/retiring the workstations. I like the metaphor of the mind as a factory with many workstations (with machines, robots or low-skill workers) and the conscious mind as a manager, inspector or leader who can go around and look at workstations, review what people are doing, make changes, build new workstations, etc., and when the manager isn't present the workstations keep running without him (the unconscious mind). You can only look at one part of your mind at a time (or maybe fewer than ten parts at once), and the only way to get much done is with automation so stuff works without your manager/conscious-attention being there. Your mind is like a powerful factory that's mostly automated and whenever you need to do manual labor (conscious/manager attention) that's really inefficient and slow. Conscious/manager attention is best used for fixing workstations or creating new workstations, not for doing work that could be done by a workstation. (It's OK for the manager to do work a few times when you're new to it, to figure out how to do it, but then he needs to delegate. Practice should involve figuring out how to delegate and set up automated workstations to do something and get those working right, not your conscious mind doing everything itself. Practice should primarily be a process of automating, not a process of your consciousness/manager practicing stuff himself. Once you figure out how to do something initially, then further practice should be kinda like doing job-training for subordinates (the subordinates being cheap, plentiful mental resources that require little to no conscious attention once they're set up). The conscious mind tells them what to do then watches them try doing the work and gives corrections.)

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)