Art of Good Learning 2 – The Secret of Persistence

In Chapter 15 The Secret of Persistence : Why Bores Are More Successful than Adventurers Rolf Dobelli wrote :-

….the secret of persistence: long term successes are like making cakes with baking powder. Slow, boring, long-winded processes lead to the best results.

Dobelli also quoted Charlie Munger (if you don’t know who he is and why we should at least pay some attention to his advice read about him here) :-

You don’t have to be brilliant, ….only a little bit wiser than the other guys, on average, for a long, long time.

This gels with what my Tai Chi teacher said about the real price of learning the art being time rather than money. Just consider :-

i) Slow – you have to practice the form slowly. Why?

Because when you are in a rush you miss a lot of things. Many of these things are easy to miss. What are they? Try practicing slowwwwwwwwwwwwwwly and you’ll see.

ii) Boring – Tai Chi is easy to learn but awfully boring to practice. Some players try to maintain interest by practicing a few things during each practice session – do some exercises to warm-up, stand like a stake for a while, play a form once, perhaps a few more times, do some push hands, and stand around sipping tea, catching up on gossip.

Dedicated practice means learn one thing at one time and keep doing it until you get it. For a few years I just practiced one form for 4 hours every night. On Sunday I would do it in the morning. Even then I paled in comparison to my teacher who practiced 8 hours a day but then he could afford to do it.

Most of us would probably consider such solitary and singular practice to be boring. But I find it intriguing and exciting as its a journey like no other into the recesses of how our mind works to employ intent.

iii) Long-winded – the Tai Chi form is a chore to learn and even more difficult to play. The level of details to pay heed to at the base level is excruciatingly enormous.

As you go on the details will increase until they become lesser not from reducing the principles but that the principles are working together so seamlessly it seems like only a few key processes are at work.


What drives persistence? Want. Desire.

Unless you really want the skill I doubt you would persist over the years to go deeply into your practice. More so, if your friends seem to be making a lot more progress in the interim short term but you are still soldiering on. To hear Dobelli put it in a nutshell :-

A positive correlation between raucousness and good ideas, between restlessness and insight, between activity and results, can rarely be found.

Are you ready for your real journey to master Tai Chi? Aye, know what you really want and once resolved, be ready to persist.

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