I came upon a very interesting concept in the book How by Dov Seidman. It's the idea that mastering an area of knowledge or skill is not a linear journey, but one with a deceptive early peak followed by a dark valley before reaching a much higher peak of mastery.
The author saw this when he was teaching a law class at Harvard. B students demonstrated good command of the material. Whatever you taught them, they displayed a basic understanding, and repeated it back to you. A students had mastered the material and had "integrated the material into their being [...] They took charge of what they had learned, took it further, challenged it, and created new, innovative thoughts: thinking outside the classroom, if you will." What about C students? Some, of course just didn't do the work, but he noticed a surprising number who worked as hard as the A students. "They too did all the reading and understood the material well. And like those who got A's, they exuded flashes of brilliance, often trying to take their understanding to the next level. But when it came time to coalescing it into an understanding and expressing their thoughts, they were stuck in a deep valley of confusion, struggling to get out."
He compares learning to a non-linear journey, where you first attain competency on "Hill B", noting that it's easy to stop at Hill B. Then as you keep pushing you descend into a "valley of confusion" [my term here], and then there's a steeper, higher climb to "Hill A" for mastery.
The author quotes someone else: "If one really wishes to be master of an art, technical knowledge is not enough. One has to transcend technique so that the art becomes an 'artless art' growing out of the Unconscious."
What do you guys think of this? How have you experienced this yourselves or seen it in others? (This is from a business book, yet my first thoughts went to sharpening and cooking ... how very revealing about how my mind works!... but you don't have to limit yourselves to sharpening and cooking )