As a dad, I believe one of my primary responsibilities is to teach my songs and daughters everything I can about failure; how to fail well, what kind of failure is acceptable/unacceptable, how to learn more about failure, etc.
Today, I learned a little bit more about skill mastery and how important it is to build a system of failure in our lives. The content was from Sean D’Souza, owner and operator of Psychotactics.com, and his topic specifically dealt with the 10,000 hour rule.
(You can find the podcast I heard HERE)
As you most likely have heard from someplace, somewhere, it’s supposed to take you 10,000 hours to truly master a subject or skill. In case you were wondering, D’Souza says (and I trust him) that that’s about 10 years of hard work, or 5 years of REALLY hard work.
He had remarkable insights regarding this rule, though. He claimed that you can actually gain expertise in a lot fewer hours, and on top of that… he made this claim with the fundamental reasoning being our lack of understanding of failure.
You see, as he explains in his podcast episode, we have created an education system (and parenting system, mind you!) that does not teach children (parents) about the importance of failure:
“As we grow up, we’re not supposed to make mistakes. We’re supposed to get things right. When you do a test, nobody says, “Hey you have to get 30% of your test wrong.”
You’re expected to get it all right. Once you have a situation where there is pressure to always get things right, then we have a real problem. People will routinely tell you, you should make mistakes to learn. But you’re not allowed to make mistakes, so it becomes a Catch-22 situation.
When we sit down to write a book, a report, an article, to draw or to learn Photoshop, we run into this situation where we are not making enough mistakes, and not being able to pick them up quickly, and therefore we are unable to fix them.”
Allow me to create the parallel to my being a dad: many of my hours as a dad are spent not knowing what mistake I’m currently making. In fact, I wouldn’t know if what I were doing was right or wrong unless somebody straight up tells me (my wife does well at this). All I know is that I have to get it right; I can’t screw up.
I simply do what I believe is best for my son in the different circumstances, trying to draw upon my time as a child (thinking through what my dad or mom did) or think through conversations with mentors or other respected people in my lives. I still don’t usually know what’s the ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to do it.
…And therein lies his point, and mine as well: many of the 10,000 hours on the way to parenting ‘mastery’ are spent not actually knowing where we are failing at. If we were to follow his prescription (laid out below) as it relates to being a dad and getting yourself on the right path to living a healthier life, we would bypass the many years it takes to gain a thorough understanding of both parenting and creating a healthier life.
Here’s the three-step key to mastering both your health and your little ones:
- You must be taught. There must be a teacher. A teacher, or mentor as I like to call it (someone involved in and aware of your weekly or at least monthly life, priorities, and spirit), provides you with two things: short-cuts and blind spots. They have usually been there, done that, which means they know the essential keys to getting you where you want to go. They can also see things that you can’t: whether it’s your pride getting in the way or rose-colored glasses, they will be able to be real and upfront with you regarding the reality of your life and situations.
- There must be a system of failure in place. I call this the, ‘System of Failure Awareness.’ Whether your health or in parenting, there must be allowance for mistakes. We must create our own awareness for our health and as a dad to then short-cut the many hours of ignorance. There are ways to know better what we are doing incorrectly. The quicker we know, the quicker we can adjust.
- Community allows us to learn from other peoples’ mistakes. There’s a saying that goes: A dumb person doesn’t learn from his mistakes. A smart person learns from his mistakes. But the smartest person learns from other people’s mistakes. Involve yourself in a health-minded community, like our ‘Simple Health Dad’ Facebook Page (shameless plug). Know your goals and the results you want to see, and find other men who are like-minded.
All-in-all, the psychology of the whole matter blows my mind. But it does leave me asking the question: How can I fail in my health and as a dad more often, in a constructive way?
I hope we can all find the journey to better health and better fatherhood together: stay tuned for more on my takeaways regarding constructing a ‘System of Failure Awareness.’
Until Next Time,
Simple Health Dad