Saturday, January 15, 2005

Very close to parking the bus.

Even though I’m this close to the end of the 7 circles I am probably going to revamp this program to make it more realistic for people that have a life. The only positive side to approaching the 7 circles exercise thus far is that it has given me a tremendous amount of insight into designing my next course of study. It has drawn a pretty accurate sketch of my strengths and weaknesses, while allowing me to get a taste of what works best for me.
There is a fine balance between progression and burnout.

While Michael de la Maza's approach has had some immediate benefit it is not tailored to meet the demands of the individual who has a full time job and a family, namely me.
What works for one person doesn't always work for the next. A one size fits all approach to improvement in any endeavor is rarely successful. I certainly don't think Michael de la Maza had that in mind when he wrote the book. I think he was sharing an account of what was helpful to him at the time and the approach he used to get there. Showing us that it is possible to obtain an Expert ranking just through studying tactics.

The exercises in the early stages were fun and not very time consuming. About an hour max. I could easily fit this into even my busy schedule, I didn't have to do it all in one sitting, 15 minutes here, 20 minutes there, etc. But as I go higher up the mountain, 2 plus hours each day is a little steep. With each following circle the time demands are becoming more impossible to meet on a Monday through Friday work schedule. I have serious reservations about being able to complete circle 4, circle 3 has been demanding enough, sure I could gloss over the exercises, and my scoring percentage would be in the low 20s along with my ELO rating, even more importantly my confidence would probably match. It has been a goal to improve my scores with each pass, not go through the motions. But that is exactly what this is becoming, a continuous cycle of going through the motions.

What is the point of doing exercises if you are reinforcing bad habits? I would rather take a slower approach while studying new material, making sure that my thought processes were clear concise and error free. Drilling in a new idea or theme until it becomes a reflex. Much like a musician practicing scale patterns, over and over again until it is so ingrained it becomes muscle memory. Reminding me of the time a friend at work told me to focus on getting things correct first, and worry about the speed second. He said the speed would come to me, and he was right.

I'm certainly not jazzed each day when I face the exercises, it feels like more of a burden than a privilege, even my wife has noticed the change in my demeanor. Roughly translated this is starting to spill over into my everyday life. Fortunately my wife is extremely understanding and supportive. But like she said, why do something that you don’t enjoy, especially if it is taking the fun out of something that I used to enjoy.

Don pointed out in his excerpt about Bruce Denton, improvement is not about killing oneself with every workout; it is about consistently applying yourself each and every day.
I think taking a methodical systematic approach to study is always going to be more productive than just a swipe here and a swipe there. More important is the breaking of a larger goal into a smaller series of goals. The feedback is always faster, meaning it allows one the opportunity to see if a particular approach is working. Plus it gives a feeling of accomplishment, which is always helpful if the goal is a lofty one.

ELO 1550 (Start) -> 2298 Current
Scoring Percentage
Level 10 - 100% (Completed)
Level 20 - 97% (Completed)
Level 30 - 91% (Completed)
Level 40 - 82% (Completed)
Level 50 - 71% (So Far)
885 exercises completed 154 remaining in circle 3.
83 days down 19 to go.

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