We live in a truly amazing time. You might have noticed it. If not, then take a look around. Consider for a moment the fact that you are reading now thoughts of a guy living in a completely different country that is probably far away. Could this be possible 20 years ago? Not a chance.
This theme bothers my mind a lot and I would love to share my insights. I know that it is probably not what you expected as it is not clearly connected to strength training. Nevertheless, isn’t everything tied in one way or another?
What Is So Amazing?
Despite all the hysteria about oversimplification, informational noise, and robots taking over human’s future, I think exactly the opposite is true. Right now is the age of inexhaustible knowledge, opportunities you never thought of, and freedom you crave so much.
It all could not happen without the internet. A lot of people swear at it. They say that it eats our brains, makes us more stupid, takes away our lives. And they are true to some extent. However, it is a close-minded approach. I believe that the web made much more good impact on our civilization than adverse.
Let me give you several examples.
The first one will be about our mutual passion – strength training. Just imagine that there is no internet. To learn something useful on proper programming and technique, you have 4 options:
- You can try to find a decent book on theme, which can be impossible because there is no Amazon.com and all the libraries in your city are full of anything except the training stuff.
- You can ask any big guy. However, if he uses steroids and you do not want to, he probably will not be able to help you. In addition, genetics play a high role despite what others say.
- You can try to figure it out on your own, which probably will be very challenging.
- You can find a coach. Still you can’t be sure if he knows what he’s talking about. And if he doesn’t, then when your initial adaptation kicks in and results stop, he can just make you sure that strength training is not your thing, that you’ve reached your genetic potential, etc.
Now let’s bring back the web. If you do not value flashy pictures over practical and useful advice, with luck and some time, you will find a decent resource of knowledge and won’t be wasting time anymore.
The second example will be about music. It is an indispensable part of my life that is as important as strength training. Even 10 years ago some things were considered essential in this affair:
- To learn playing an instrument, you required spending money on a teacher. You was lucky if you could find a good one nearby.
- To make music, you required a band (of course, depending on the kind of music you want to play).
- To make a good recording, you were supposed to spend money on a good studio, good mixing and good mastering. And if you hadn’t a good producer that could point out mistakes and suggest solutions, chances are your recording would have never made it further.
- To make some money and at least some presence, you required a deal with a label.
All these steps are not that essential anymore.
- You can learn playing any instrument from YouTube nowadays. Yes, it is not the same. To become world-class, you will still require a teacher. On the bright side, you can develop intermediate skills only with this minimum setup. Additionally, you can learn from a teacher YOU like. There are plenty of videos and a lot of people who want to share knowledge with you. You do not need to go somewhere and most of the time you can connect with a teacher through the comments or messages.
- You do not require a band anymore. If you are astute enough, you can figure out how to replace any member.
- You can make a good recording in your bedroom nowadays. How awesome is that? You won’t need much more than a laptop and some instruments you can play. Use internet to learn how to record them. Then search how to mix and master your songs. Again, it is probably not the most beautiful solution, but it works really well in right hands.
- And finally, you do not need a label to distribute your music. There are lots of direct-to-fan services that can help you.
I can give you examples on and on. The internet made possible and available a plethora of things you never thought of. Could they be feasible without it? Yes, but it would be immensely harder (which is equal to impossible for some individuals).
Yes, knowledge is the most important benefit of the web in my opinion. Hey, I found myself watching the videos about lock picking the other day. Not that I’m planning a theft or something, but isn’t it interesting how it works? Basically, you can learn a lot of things without even searching too much. All the keys are already in your hands.
Some time ago books (I mean books here, not e-books) were your best bets in learning something. You were lucky if you could find a book that is useful and is written in simple language. Growing up in a provincial town, I never understood the value of good books because I never had a chance to read one. Firstly, 80%+ of the books in libraries were fiction and classics. Secondly, 80%+ of self-help and learning books at that time were total bullshit.
I remember how my parents presented me a book on bodybuilding when I was young. They had no knowledge in this field as well as me at that time, so there is no one to blame. Looking back from my current experience, 80% of that book was crap. The only right thing that I learned was the classification of the types of the body. Programming was awful, as well as technique description. The nutrition section was a total joke. It definitely wasn’t the best book to start your strength training journey with.
Let’s go even further. I will never forget my physics textbook from school. It was a totally badass piece. After every paragraph, there were some exercises to solve. The trick was that there was no clear explanation on how to solve them in the paragraph, not even a related formula. Just imagine wasting your time on reading several pages of text that gives you fucking nothing to solve the actual problems. I get pissed about this even now. I believe that is one of the reasons how such an interesting science as physics was completely screwed up for me and lots of my classmates. That was Ukrainian education back in the day (I don’t believe something has changed).
As you can see, learning something from the book was a challenging task some time ago. Now everything has changed. YOU are the one who in charge. I feel sorry for people that lived earlier and had no access to what we have. How many good musicians, artists, writers and other remarkable and talented people died in obscurity due to that? And I feel sorry for our contemporaries that waste their time on booze, drugs, social networks’ surfing, etc. instead of evolving into something outstanding.
Knowledge is not complete without practice. This leads us to the next part – acquiring skills. I wrote an article on skill-learning in the past. However, I want to emphasize some things.
Nowadays you can obtain almost any skill without even going somewhere. Just open YouTube, search what you want, and you will receive a nice list of videos from people that want to help you. Additionally, open Google, search there and after some filtering, you’ll find several information-rich blogs. Absorb the knowledge and begin your practice. Give it at least 20 minutes per day and in several months or less, you will be able to boast with a new skill. How awesome is that?
What I’ve noticed are two things:
1. A lot of skills have serious carryover. Once you get better with one, you get somewhat better with other ones, even if it will be in a subtle way.
2. All the next related skills will be far easier to nail. Once you mastered, for example, playing a guitar, getting good with a piano will be way faster and easier.
What intriguing thought does this information create?
What if nowadays you can become an ultra-human? And in much less time than you think. I mean you can become whoever and whatever you want. Imagine the perfect self. What qualities does he/she obtain? What skills does he/she have? Have you ever dreamed about becoming 007 or Sam Fisher, or [insert your favorite character or real person]? Nail the required skills one by one and you will become a human 2.0. If you are consistent, hard-working and somewhat smart, you will accomplish this quite fast comparing to what it could take if you lived 20 years ago.
Feel the scent of the opportunities that are already in your reach.
How to Achieve That?
Let’s get to some practical advice. Here are some tips for you to reap as much benefits as possible:
1. Concentrate on one thing at a time. This is important. Trying to learn all at once is a sure way to failure and frustration.
2. Make the difficulty gradual and progressive. Start light. Let’s use juggling as an example. At first, you should learn how to throw a ball. Yes, just one ball. You need to develop an optimal trajectory for yourself. Then you move to two balls. Again, not three, just two. You nail that down. Only then you start 3-ball stuff. Still, you should master only three throws at first. After that you move to four, five, six, etc. in a gradual fashion. That’s how learning any skill works. There is no other way around. Start light and slow and move to harder stuff with time.
3. Once you mastered a skill, I would advise you to practice it at least once a week for maintenance. You shouldn’t lose it quickly, if at all, but it is always a good idea to practice a familiar pattern.
4. How often? How much? The bare minimum should be at least 20 minutes per day. The more the better. Of course, it all depends on how much the skill depletes your energy stores. If it is strength-related, then you should read this. If it is not, then go crazy and practice as much as possible. I would also suggest to split your practice sessions. 20 minutes in the morning, 20 at the afternoon and 20 in the evening are better for skill-learning than 60 once a day.
I Challenge You
Yes, you got it right. I challenge you to learn 5 new skills that are not related to strength training in the next 3 months. I don’t care what these skills will be. Just pick 5 that you always wanted to achieve. For example, just this month I nailed 3-ball juggling, coin knuckle roll and several coin vanishes. Yes, I still see some flaws, but I spent less than a month on them yet.
Just think about it. Wouldn’t you be cooler with 5 new skills?
To make this official, I want you to leave the list of the skills you are willing to learn in the comments (read this article why).
Aside from knowledge and skills, the web gives you a unique opportunity for connection. You can reach an unbelievable amount of people nowadays. 20 years ago you were “doomed” to spend your time only with the people you’ve met. If you were lucky, they were interesting and inspiring friends. However, much bigger chances are that they were mediocrity that wants nothing from life. I’m judging from my current experience here. 95% of people I met and know in person have no goal and are floating through their lives instead of streaming as a torrent to where they really want to be. Although, it can be a matter of ambitions.
I’m grateful to Rough Strength blog for meeting so many great people all over the world. Yes, I’m talking about you now. Without the web it would be impossible.
Of course, as any great thing, the web has its downsides. Low-quality information noise, huge time-waste for some people, lots of kids with their premature attitudes, haters, etc. But it all doesn’t matter. The upside is so high that you can’t see the downside from there.
Although this article may sound naive, I find these ideas inspiring and thought-provoking. A lot of people had huge dreams and expectations when they were kids. They wanted to be musicians, artists, magicians, etc. Now most of them are slaves of their jobs, problems and duties. What I explained in this article is a key to living a much more fulfilling life. I hope you use it and become a more awesome version of yourself. Thanks for reading.
Alex Zinchenko 2.0
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