Sunday, January 23, 2022

What is Genius? Part I - Introduction

The word genius carries a uniquely satisfying connotation.  There are probably many definitions of the term, with most narrowly focusing on people with extremely high intelligence.  To me, a more encompassing definition is preferred: A genius is someone who is exceptionally talented in his/her field(s) and creates meteoric contributions to the world.  
Einstein fits the bill but so do Michelangelo, Mozart and Kasparov.  Debates have gone for centuries on what makes a genius a genius.  Recent studies have shown that it is not all about brains.  Nature vs nurture debates have ensued, but I will settle on these four commonalities: 
  1. Intelligence - yes, brains
  2. Creativity - also brains 
  3. Grit - persevering through highs and lows 
  4. Environmental circumstances - being at the right place at the right time with the right people
Let's spend the next few weeks to deep dive on each characteristic that help to shape a genius.


Sunday, January 16, 2022

Rubik's, Solved!

I tried my hands on a Rubik's Cube in elementary school, only to be met with frustration.  I remembered thinking this was a game only for geniuses.  A second chance came late last year when my 9-5 ordered hundreds of cubes as souvenirs for local marketing events.  After 2 hours of practice over the weekend and with the help of some YouTube hacks, I finally did it!

Not Max Park yet, but it made my day.  


Sunday, January 9, 2022

Book Review: The First 20 Hours - How to Learn Anything Fast

Continuous learning has been a cornerstone of my life.   Being an efficient learner is therefore important to me.  I often wonder about the best way to learn and end up "learning about learning" every so often.  No wonder I was naturally drawn to this book by best selling author, Josh Kaufman, given its catchy title.

Kaufman first clears the air that devoting 20 hours of your life to something does not make your an expert in the field.  However, it allows you to become good enough and be confident in applying the skill being acquired.  He then distils his learning process into 10 steps:
  1. Identify a skill(s) that matters to you
  2. If multiple skills are desired, focus your energy on one skill at a time 
  3. Define a target level on "what is good enough"
  4. Deconstruct the skill into sub-skills 
  5. Ensure the right tools are available for learning
  6. Remove barriers to practice
  7. Make time to practice for at least 20 hours, preferably in regular intervals  
  8. Create fast feedback loops
  9. Practice by the clock in short bursts (e.g., 20-min intervals)
  10. Emphasize on the quality and quantity of practice without focusing on perfection
Kaufman went on to describe how he had applied the above to learning computer programming, Go, the ukulele among other things.  From his real world examples, I get the feeling that first reading about the topic to gain a basic understanding is necessary.  Regular deliberate practice of the skill however, is the ultimate key to learning.  

Applying Kaufman's framework, this is what I should do for my golf game: 
  1. Set a mission statement to play golf well this year.  Well it is already one of my 2022 goals
  2. Agree with myself that this is THE sport I will hone with unparelleled focus this year
  3. Break 100 at 18-holes before end of year
  4. Focus on posture, force dynamics, the woods, the irons and course etiquette
  5. Get better clubs; buy new clothing (shoes, gloves, comfy pants)
  6. Leave my equipment in the car for easy access. Set up a training program with my coach
  7. Get to the course at least once a week alternating between lessons and self practice; and at least twice a month at the course 
  8. Get feedback from my coach during lessons and send him videos of my play for instant critique
  9. Do #7 with focus but also get into a habit of swinging a 9-iron at home every day for the "feel"
  10. Practice without being too self-conscious on getting the perfect posture.  Get the basics right first
The approach looks sound as I have been doing bits and pieces of it since last month.  Putting all this into a system with rigor will hopefully deliver the results soon! 


Sunday, January 2, 2022

Happy 2022!

Happy New Year!

With the arrival of 2022, it is time to put my resolutions to work: 
  1. Improve my golf game with a sub-30 handicap (yes, I am that bad)
  2. Remaster my butterfly stroke in the pool 
  3. Become an advanced chess player by scoring 1500+ on 
  4. Write more blog posts by finding a focus topic(s).  
No world peace this time, but each goal carries with it a deeper meaning for me -- hence the excitement. 

Let's get started!