Powerful questions for self-reflection

[…] if you applied this approach, there’s not a strengths-weaknesses binary. It’s, “is this particular skill where I need it to be or not?” […] That could be a skill—if I’m understanding this correctly—that you’re identifying, “I need to get this even farther to get where I want to get.” You might be at a skill level there that everyone would say that’s a strength of yours, you’re really good at that. And so it seems like the strength-weakness binary, is not that useful, at least in this framework. It’s just where you’re trying to get, and what skills are not where they need to be to get you there.

~ Cal Newport ~1h9m from, Deep Questions episode 39 with David Epstein, Ep. 39: DAVID EPSTEIN on Skills, Practice, and the Subtle Art of Cultivating a Meaningful Career

David Epstein is, most recently, the author of Range. Newport and Epstein’s conversation ranges—sorry—widely, and nearer the end they get into talking about reflection as a mastery tool. Epstein mentions a particular reflection process as something he had included only in passing in his first book, The Sports Gene.

Newport’s point, quoted above, changed how I think about skill level. Epstein had been discussing how he’d learned of Marije T Elferink-Gemser‘s research. Based in the Netherlands, a team had been running these things called the Groningen talent studies for over a decade studying skills, proficiency and mastery in Soccer athletes.

These were questions that, the first time I asked, she sent and said, you answer these at least every month. What’s your goal has to be as clear as possible, but it doesn’t need to be realistic at this point. …dreaming is allowed at this point. Do you have any idea of what’s needed to perform at the level you aim for? How do I make sure how do I make sure that I get an even better idea of what’s needed to perform at that level? How am I going to arrange that? Who are the people I need to reach that goal? And how can I make sure that they’ll help me to reach that personal goal? Am I sure I want to reach the goal and why? Those were the original set of questions that I received.

~ David Epstein, ibid.

That’s a tremendous set of questions for self-reflection!

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