Mastering a Skill
Describe an action that you practiced repeatedly over a long period of time and that you now do intuitively. Identify how the methods you used to internalize this action are the steps necessary for developing a mastery of that action. Also describe a skill you hope to master in your lifetime. Identify why that skill is important to you and how you can apply your experiences, Robert Greene’s MASTERY and other FDDS reading to achieve a mastery in that skill.
Growing up in Florida for most of my life, swimming was definitely a big part of my summers. I was on my local swim team from 1st grade until I graduated from high school - by that time I had moved up to be a junior and then assistant coach. I took a break from swimming for a while when I got to AU (the idea of using indoor pool still doesn’t quite feel right to me), but decided to pick it up again this summer. I was worried the first time I went back to the pool that I was really going to have a hard time with my strokes - that I wasn’t as in good of shape as I had been when I was swimming before, and that my technique would be terrible. I was shocked, however, when I got in the water and everything I’d ever practiced seemed to come back to me - my body just knew what to do.
Back when I was first learning my strokes, I remember our coach giving us countless drills to help us master them, demanding that we focus on the smallest details to cut down our times - how you flicked your wrist at the end of the pull, how far apart your fingers were, how we breathed. I developed an awareness of how every piece of my body was moving, until eventually, I didn’t even have to think about doing the strokes. My body had developed a rhythm, and its stuck with me since. Now swimming is something that will always come as second nature, even if I’ve taken long breaks between practices.
With swimming, it definitely took a lot of repetition, persistence, and self-awareness in order to master the different strokes, and I had to immerse myself completely in the strokes before the correct motions became intuitive. I think that a lot of these same practices could be used to other master skills in my life, such as languages. After studying abroad in Brazil and beginning to learn Portuguese, it is a language I’d like to master during my lifetime. Languages are best learned through immersion, and while I don’t know if I’ll have the opportunity to spend that long of a period in Brazil again, I could make small changes to make sure that I’m in situations where I’m forced to speak Portuguese - making time to practice with my roommates from Brazil, watching Portuguese movies without subtitles, using Rosetta stone. I noticed after a few weeks in Brazil that I was able to say and understand certain phrases in Portuguese without having to think about every single word I was saying (or making sure that I wasn’t switching over to Spanish intuitively). The hardest part of learning a language for me is usually forcing myself to think in that language - I think that if I continue to consistently practice, I can begin to speak more confidently and it will become intuitive.
By Falon Dominguez