This all got me thinking, like the mathematician how do we make that leap? The ability to do that seems fundamental, seems like the crown jewel of learning. Let’s look at this leap in other fields:

  • Salsa dancers just know when to step on 1 based on the sounds of the music. They don’t need to count 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7. They make that leap.
  • A golfer stands over the golf ball knowing where the ball will land before he even swings.
  • Writers who just know what their character will do next, or know the whole story.

In my experience, when you reach a certain point, the leap just one day happens. Recently and suddenly while salsa body my body stepped on 1 without any thinking. It wasn’t until the song was over that I even noticed. Also back in college, I had one round of golf where every time I was within 15 feet of the hole, I knew the ball was in, and it was.

In both of these, I had collected thousands of hours of different experiments and play and wathcing others, the whole time gathering data. Most of these countless hours were passed like the mathematician in his beginning stages, thinking, problem-solving, and rationally working out the problem. After enough time, my body was comfortable in the environment and took over.

For a painter this collecting data could be:

  1. painting various pictures, from anything that inspires him
  2. pushing paint around with his fingers to see how it feels
  3. watching a movie and taking note of things that evoked emotion
  4. recording a dream he had that was vivid
  5. walking through a museum looking at other’s art
  6. and so on

Often I recall my friend telling me a quote from Atomic Habits: “Every action you take is a vote for the type of person you want to become.” Habits are about your identity, who you want to be. And furthermore, true identity is about making these leaps.

So I ask, in what area of your life do you want to make these leaps? And what habits will allow you to begin today, begin collecting data to get there?