Working my way through my to-read pile (yay, I've made it to 2011!) and I've just found a really interesting article about whether a seasoned surgeon would benefit from having another experienced surgeon observe and coach him. It's a long read, but I recommend it. It discusses what it takes to be an elite performer in any discipline.
Anyway, this is probably an old cliché, but I'd never heard it before: "Expertise, as the formula goes, requires going from unconscious incompetence to conscious incompetence to conscious competence and finally to unconscious competence."
Or...first you suck and you don't know it, then you suck and you do know it, then if you really pay attention you can do work that doesn't suck and finally you are awesome without really having to think about it. I'll get to stage four some day, by cracky!
I was once on the receiving end of a critique so savagely nasty, I marched straight out of class to the office and changed my major (sketchbook).
It's a good statement of the importance of "deliberate practice."
However, it was interesting to see the pitfalls of coaching -- surgeons have immense egos, teachers are suspicious of coaching, fearing the coach may rat them out on performance issues to superiors, and the surgeon's own anecdote at the end of the article-- explaining you have a coach to a patient as they're going into surgery doesn't engender confidence!
o m g. im so scared now. i as a potential patient am a bit worried my surgeon is trying to pull a houdini on me. play chess, poker, fightclub,... whatever, but dont use me to try something risky (as in not proven to be working in 999 out of 1000 cases). keep the artistic pressure on those people who dont cut up humans... please.I’ve been a surgeon for eight years. For the past couple of them, my performance in the operating room has reached a plateau. I’d like to think it’s a good thing—I’ve arrived at my professional peak. But mainly it seems as if I’ve just stopped getting better.
Loved this article, thanks for sharing it.
It reminded me how much I missed speed skating in a group once a week. I learned how to skate with them, and I remember that feeling of exposure that the surgeon described. I always worried that they were judging me or secretly laughing at me. Even though many of the skaters had been doing it for decades, they were all more than happy to help me along. It's like how many people come to CA afraid to post their art and then get upset because they can't get the advice they need. I think people are so scared that if they post their art and it's bad, people won't like them as a person. It's funny though because I've never met anyone who didn't respect someone else for being humble and asking for help, and it makes me so happy to have CA as a resource where professionals will take time out of their day to give you some advice. Getting over that fear of exposure is so important to getting personal help.
When I moved provinces and I tried to continue learning speed skating on my own, I remembered feeling so lost. It was way worse than the feeling of exposure. I didn't have anyone to tell me that my shoulders were tense or bend my knees more. I didn't have anyone to push me to do three more laps even when I was convinced I was finished. That external set of ears/eyes is such a great luxury to have, and you don't realize how important it is until you don't have it anymore.
I guess what I'm saying is LONG LIVE CA
As a side story: Once when I was speed skating on my last lap and about 30m from the bleachers, a rock got caught in my wheels and I smashed into the ground. The concrete took few layers of skin off of both my shins, though the embarrassment (fear of exposure!) was so bad I didn't even notice at first. It wasn't until I sat down on the bleachers and saw my legs were two bright red sticks that I understood why everyone kept asking if I was okay. I got the absolute best advice on how to care for the wounds and they healed well enough to skate with in a week and a half. Turns out that all expert skaters have crashed...a lot. Hearing all their stories gave me so much comfort and it made me realize that my fear of exposure was totally unfounded. No one was judging me because they've made thousands of mistakes too. They were just trying to help me learn from their mistakes instead of my own.
Check out my sketchbook! Socially acceptable opportunity to yell at a teenage girl!