In The Art of Learning Josh Waitzkin has a chapter called “Making Smaller Circles.” These three simple words have profound implication on the learning process and on rapid skill growth.
Making smaller circles fits with my experience of learning in several different ways. First, I’ve been making a habit of examining the small steps necessary to make big changes. The smaller the steps the easier it is to create lasting change.
I also make a habit, personally and professionally, of asking questions. In my friends’ and clients’ answers I see another example of circling. Hundreds of times, while describing an obstacle, I have heard someone say “I feel like I’m just going in circles.” And in a way, they are. Last week a friend described his romantic difficulties and then complained that he was just circling around the same issues of a year ago. In fact, he was struggling with romance a year ago, too.
When I heard that comment though or when I am trying (and sometimes failing) to take small steps towards my goals, I prefer to think that we are all making smaller circles.