How Small Achievements Make a Big Impact

Experts often fight over which path is best or right and most teach what is easiest to represent. When we are beginners in a field, it can be confusing to have contrasting or different takes on which knowledge and skills matter most. Not to mention the complicated manuals that come with products. To learn, says Kathy Sierra in Badass: Making Users Awesome, we need to focus on:

the deeper core perceptual patterns and the kinds of experience (including practice) most likely to build results.

Doing the right things in the right ways makes a path robust, even if it's not the optimal path.

And it makes us more resilient in the process.

Most of the typical approaches to acquiring knowledge and skills are fragile.

Using martial arts as an example, says Sierra, the secret to a motivating Path Map, is that it's not about the belt, it's about the progress.

In martial arts, the belt is a representation of where we are on the path but it's also a tool for gaining access to new challenges

Access and not badges, sense of progress as source of meaning. Quoting research done by Teresa M. Amabile and Steven Kramer for in The Progress Principle: Using Small Wins to Ignite Joy, Engagement, and Creativity at Work:

Of all the things that can boost emotions, motivation, and perception during a workday, the single most important is making progress in meaningful work. And the more frequently people experience that sense of progress, the more likely they are to be creatively productive in the long run. Whether they are trying to solve a major scientific mystery or simply produce a high-quality product or service, everyday progress — even a small win — can make all the difference in how they feel and perform.”

But even making progress is not enough. We need to benefit from the progress we make to find it meaningful enough to stick with an activity.

For example, I was trying to record a video with my camera, I was in a bit of a hurry, and I am sure I skipped a step because I could not play back my test. Ended up using my very old Flip — worked like a charm. Because it was designed to make experimentation easy — click this button, record, stop, then play. Done. Success.


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