There’s No Progress Without Challenge

For the past seven months or so, I’ve been faced with a new challenge in Lindy Hop: very slow progress on something I’m focusing on (aerials).  Not progressing the fastest among my peers.  For the past few years of my dancing, that’s been really uncommon.  Maybe I’ve been prideful about it?  No maybe’s about it.  I’ve taken great satisfaction in it.  I’ve been a high achiever.  No so much with this work.  It’s been slow, grinding progress.  Extremely slow.  Sometimes it feels like two steps back, one step forward.

And yet, throughout this time, I’ve been able to keep from getting frustrated by focusing on my process.  Watching a lot of other people’s progress.  Trying to understand what was making successful people successful.  Trying to get a lot of feedback from expert coaches.  Trying to get feedback from my partners and peers.  Accepting and trying to internalize suggestions and critiques.  Trying to get video of myself for self-critique.  Keeping my goals in mind.  Remembering other challenges that I’ve met and overcome, and how that’s worked in my favor.  My emotional state hasn’t been perfectly serene the whole time, as I’ve definitely had my valleys, but it hasn’t ever been … bad.

I’ve been trying to use it as a reminder what it’s like being a novice.  When you’re a novice, the number of problems to fix can seem overwhelming.  When you’re a novice, it’s difficult to know what order to fix things in.  When you’re a novice, on any given practice repetition, it’s difficult to concentrate on fixing more than one thing at a time.

How do you deal with learning something that you have a high desire to do, but make much slower progress at than you’re used to making?

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3 thoughts on “There’s No Progress Without Challenge”

  1. I had a similar problem when learning how to point my toes for Irish soft-shoe dance. It seemed no matter how much I practiced in front of a mirror, got feed back from my dance instructor, and worked with others process was slow and gradual.

    My only advice is patience, I can now point my toes it just took a decent time investment. Sometimes for unknown reasons people struggle with different things in dance, I’ve had friends who I consider much better dancers struggle with concepts I have picked up with breeze when it usually went the other way most days.

    Also in respect to aerials, they are a difficult concept not just because of the technique, but the mental aspect as well. The risk factor definitely adds a layer of difficulty then most swing dance related concepts/moves one learns.

  2. I totally hear you on this one. You know what I tend to do that helps? A couple steps: First I seek out some guidance from a trusted source, and really take a hard look at their feedback. Then I set the goal in my mind. And then I forget about it.

    It becomes a subconscious priority. Without over-revving and burning out practicing one skill, you’ll find yourself pursuing opportunities to improve it. Before long, you’ll catch yourself in the mirror, or have someone compliment you and finally realize that, huh, you did it! But you’re probably too busy focusing on the next skill to stop and celebrate 😉

    1. Awesome feedback from both of you! romp&frolic: that follows the “master coaching” recipie of The Talent Code. Definitely something to keep in mind. How often to you review your feedback list to make sure it doesn’t fall completely off your radar?

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