I don’t know about you, but when I try to learn a new skill or improve in a certain area, I’m very impatient with my progress. I have the idea that I should be an expert, even though I’m just getting started. Truth be told, there are many factors that cause me to feel that way, but I venture to believe that I’m not alone. No one wants to be the rookie, but every master started somewhere.
I believe one of the primary reasons for this feeling is that, especially in this digital age, there is so much information available for every topic imaginable. For the novice, it would seem that finding a thread and following it toward mastery is nearly impossible. I remember when I first started studying Bible and theology. Before I enrolled in seminary, I began my study with a handful of books that my dad had left me when he passed away. I read through these books, only to discover that they were mostly outdated and spoke to only one point of view. When I would try to engage in conversation with others, I quickly realized that my understanding was inept.
I plan to write another post at a later date walking you through my seminary journey and how I finally came to a point of feeling grounded in my theological understanding, but suffice it to say, I found a foundational principle within the plethora of data; a framework for interpreting any new information that I would discover in the years to follow. Some time later I stumbled upon a book by Robert Twigger entitled, “Micromastery: Learn Small, Learn Fast.” In this book, Twigger explains how learning “micro skills” will give you the basic building blocks for future mastery in any field. For example, learning to properly cook an omelet will give you the necessary skill for mastering any recipe in the future. While this concept was new to me, it’s a timeless truth! Ask any educator and they will tell you that reading is the “micro skill” necessary for all effective learning: teach a student to read and they can teach themselves anything!
In my own process, I call these “hinge points” because everything else “hinges” on them. I believe that every topic has at least one hinge point and that mastery of that concept (or concepts) can lead to mastery of that topic! So what concept are you trying to understand, or skill are you trying to acquire? What is the most foundational principle holding it all together? Grapple with that principle and you’ll find your way to tackling the whole thing!