The Second Fundamental Skill (self.TheRedPill)

submitted by TRP VanguardWhisper

There are two fundamental skills that one must have in order to thrive. The first, distinguishing truth from falsehood, we have already talked about some:



... and will talk about more in the future. The second is the skill of learning new skills.

Skills are the path to pretty much anything you want which is at all possible. When you know what to learn (by distinguishing truth from falsehood), and you know how to learn, you always have a way to work towards your goals.

Learning important things is hard, because if learning a thing is easy, everyone already knows how to do it, so it's not that important. We distinguish ourselves from others by learning hard skills. And when we say "hard skills", we mean "hard to learn", because any skill becomes easier to perform the better one learns to perform it.

So how does learning work?

  • There are three distinct types of learning: Education, Practice, and Training.
  • They don't substitute for each other; learning requires all three.
  • Although they do overlap some, they are stages, and they need to happen in order.
  • Learning a skill can be one big Education-Practice-Training sequence, but it usually also has lots of little ones inside it.

Now, everyone here knows that:

  • EDUCATION is the process of transferring knowledge from an external source into you. (The source can be a book, another person, a video, just going out and looking at something directly, performing science experiments, whatever.) Knowledge of a subject is not performance of a skill, but no one can perform a skill unless they first know what they are supposed to be doing.

So what are practice and training, and how are they different?

  • PRACTICE is the act of attempting to perform a skill, observing the results of the attempt, and correcting the performance according to the observation. This try-observe-correct-try cycle is called a feedback loop. It is the presence of this feedback loop which distinguishes practice from education. Generally the faster this loop can be run, the more cycles you can complete, and the more effective your practice time will be at improving your skill.

  • TRAINING is the process of inducing a stress to stimulate an adaptive response. (If this doesn't sound familiar to you, then do you even lift, bro?) When a skill can be performed correctly and reliably in practice, a stress is introduced into that performance to induce an adaptation to that stress. (If you can perform a squat correctly with an empty bar, add some weight to it. If you can reliably hit 10 out of 10 shots from prone at 300 yards, do it against a 60 second time limit.)

The difference between practice and training is that practice uses a feedback loop to teach an action, while training uses an induced stress to modify the performance of an already-practiced action.

So, when we want to learn properly, we:

  • First educate ourselves so we know what a performance of the action should look like.
  • Then we practice the action, focusing on using feedback (the quicker the better) to make the action correct, not on the difficultly or challenge of the practice task.
  • Last, when we can do the action reliably and correctly, we train by adding some stress to that performance in order to be able to do it under those conditions: faster, heavier, under less favorable conditions, while balancing a ball on your nose, whatever. Just remember that adapting to one stress adapts you to that stress, not necessarily others.
  • This is the cycle. We run big cycles of this, and smaller cycles inside that. But practice must be informed by education, and training must be enabled by practice.

So what happens to people who don't do this?

  • Your kid brother who tried to "learn MMA" by putting on some boxing gloves and duking it out in the backyard with his friends was training without practice or education. He got faster and smoother at doing the wrong thing, perhaps, but can't really fight.
  • If he hung a heavy bag and hit that a bunch first, before he progressed to brawling, then he was practicing without education, and things were much the same.
  • The guy who thinks he can fight because he watches a whole bunch of professional MMA matches and knows what all the moves are is educated without being practiced or trained, and can't punch his way out of a wet paper bag.
  • That strip mall karate school guy who can do elabourate forms but can't fight is educated and practiced, but not trained. He has not introduced stress into his learning process, so his skill performance falls apart under stress.
  • That wannabe tough guy who starts fighting smoker matches when has only been boxing for four months is training without enough practice. He knows what a good punch looks like, what good footwork looks like, but it all falls apart in the ring, because he hasn't practiced it enough, and the level of stress he is inducing is too high, too fast.

So how do we learn?

  • Pursue the steps in order.
  • Any time you are learning, know which one you are doing: educating yourself, practicing, or training.
  • Focus on what is needed for the step you are doing:
    • When educating yourself, focus on gaining a mental understanding of the proper way to do things. It doesn't matter that you can't do it yet.
    • When practicing, focus on creating a tight feedback loop so you can correct your technique. The quicker and better your feedback, the more effective your practice will be. Do not induce stress by trying to make things more "realistic" or by "practicing a harder thing". You are trying to be correct, not fast, smooth, or awesome.
    • When training, focus on adapting what you already know to a new level of pressure. Do not try new shit you haven't practiced first.
  • Don't make the "coward error" of educating forever to avoid practice, or practicing forever to avoid training. You will never learn.
  • Don't make the "showoff error" of jumping right to practice without education, or training right away without practice. You will think you look awesome, but you will continue to suck.
  • When you change what you are doing, jump back to a previous stage. Never try to learn something new under stress if you can avoid it.

Think about what you are doing, and you will get better faster.

[–]wayneinthegame 91 points92 points  (1 child)

I've read so much about practice as a guitarist and spent 4 years in music school and never understood that training was introducing stress to practicing. Thanks man, you've really added some value to my life. I'm "training" right now for a battle of the bands and I'm gonna reorganize my plan!

P.S. hadnt read TRP in few months and then find this little gem! Ppl hate this sub and have no idea the kind of value created when a group of men contribute towards a common goal.

[–]foxhound525 4 points5 points  (0 children)

Through this whole thing I was thinking about how I used to apply this to my guitar playing but when it got to the really tricky licks when playing thrash metal I hadn't practiced enough before skipping to 'training' which inevitably lead to frustration. This also helped me remember to get it right first, and then start building up speed. Glad I'm not the only one who saw the music in these words. I find this stuff is far more useful than all the sexual strategy stuff people generally focus on!

[–]Imboni 46 points47 points  (1 child)

May I request the mods put this up on the sidebar? This will really help newbies and intermediates by giving them a framework to place things in.

One of the biggest problems with TRP is that because everyone is different, a specialised structure can't be provided. But this post is as close as it gets to that, because it provides the underlying method.

Want to learn how to lift? Follow this. Approach? Follow this. Social skills? The same.

This will also help new guys avoid shitty advice. 'Just approach bro' as a general recommendation when someone hasn't educated themselves enough will lead to bad results. As will making the 'coward' error, of which ironically 'just approach bro' is a viable solution. Solutions when applied to the wrong problems never lead to good results, and it is regularly seen on asktrp.

Brilliant post.

[–][deleted] 3 points4 points  (0 children)

And then training with cold approach would look something like: approach and pull her to your place without saying a single word, or approach and successfully make out with her without saying a word, or successfully neg and get her pussy wet while wearing a banana peel on your head, or while speaking only 5 word sentences. This is a really good post.

[–]Endorsed ContributorKeffirLime 49 points50 points  (4 children)

A large problem with today’s society is we’re a bunch of wanters. Everything is so instant...messaging, food, online shopping.

So our mindset is programmed to just want things, because everything is so available to us, and we want it quickly, without due process.

Just look at advertising, “6 pack shortcuts”, quick tips for a happier you etc

To learn any lasting skill effectively due process is required, there are no shortcuts. Not even in today’s world. Time and patience are required.

Our minds and bodies take time to internalize things, as the process unfolds. But once we learn them PROPERLY, the skills are often for life.

We also need to be cognizant of our sources of “education” to avoid investing endless amounts of practice and training for poor yield and we need to manage our expectations along the way to remain focused on the process.

Good post

[–]Chitlinsandgravy 25 points26 points  (1 child)

Instant gratification is the death of character, and self respect.

[–]Ernie4Prez -1 points0 points  (0 children)

Instant gratification is the death of character, and self respect.

Indeed. You become addicted to gratification.

[–]Imboni 5 points6 points  (0 children)

Extremely good point. Highly recommend Talent Is Overrated to anyone reading this comment. Once a skill has been mastered properly, it does indeed stay for life.

[–]-rotten- 1 point2 points  (0 children)

If you want to know about instant gratification you should read Zygmunt Bauman's book Liquid Modernity, he basically says we want everything right now and in a easy way, Bauman has some interesting insights about this social behaviour wich he thinks every day is more common.

[–][deleted] 10 points11 points  (2 children)

Those are huge words- Don't educate forever to avoid practice. Golden.

[–]SauliusTRP 1 point2 points  (0 children)

That's good phrase for educating yourself about sexual strategy, but mentally masturbating too long to avoid practice.

[–]chadthundercork -3 points-2 points  (0 children)

That goes for studying pretty much any subject for any type of college degree. Nail those practice exams. And no looking at your notes motherfucker!

[–]Endorsed Contributorredpillbanana 5 points6 points  (0 children)

Great submission. Learning to learn is definitely one of the most important skills.

Mark Rippetoe's definition of training, which is similar to Whisper's, is an excellent one, especially when he distinguishes exercise and training:

(1) A designed and planned adaptation to stress:

Training follows exactly the same principle as getting a tan – a stress is imposed on the body and it adapts to the stress, but only if the stress is designed properly. You wouldn’t lay out for 2 minutes and assume that it would make you brown, because 2 minutes isn’t enough stress to cause an adaptation. Likewise, only a stupid kid lays out for an hour on each side the first day, because the stress is so overwhelmingly damaging that it cannot be recovered from in a constructive way.

(2) ...with a long-term goal in mind

Training is physical activity done with a longer-term goal in mind, the constituent workouts of which are specifically designed to produce that goal. If a program of physical activity is not designed to get you stronger or faster or better conditioned by producing a specific stress to which a specific desirable adaptation can occur, you don’t get to call it training. It is just exercise.


Edit: more wise words from the Rippetoe:

Training is physical activity performed for the purpose of satisfying a long-term performance goal, and is therefore about the process instead of the workouts themselves. And since the process must generate a definable result at a point in time removed from each workout, the process must be planned to produce this result.

[–]Cum_Victor 1 point2 points  (0 children)

First off, great post.

People tend to forget that this is a process. This process varies for people, some people catch on and learn things at a faster pace than others. But most people today want the shortcut, they want the result without knowing the why and how of the result. Just go to any university classroom today, you won't be seeing much, if any of these three fundamentals of learning being used.

[–]BerimboloPowerlifter 1 point2 points  (2 children)

Question probably to IT related guys:

What do you think adapting agile methodology to everyday life?

Meditation is basically the same thing as everyday stand up's.

[–]WinterFallPT 2 points3 points  (0 children)

I had that epiphany last year one night I arrived home high as fuck, I had started my first job in software engineering for some months then. It just made all the fucking sense, I had an agile coach in my team that very enthusiastic and I was watching the methodology work everyday.It was the ignition of my self improvement journey. http://agilelifestyle.net/ was a great resource even though it seems not updated in a while. It pushed me to do a lot of changes in my life: stop smoking, taking drugs, masturbation and join a gym. Started practicing meditation, wrote weekly retrospectives to produce action points and made a kanban board on my bedroom wall, with post its.

I recommend messing with it and see if it fits your goals.

[–]hammerhearth 1 point2 points  (0 children)

u/whisper works in IT like the Viking fuck he is, but in my opinion good stand ups are a product of good management as meditation is a product of a stable mind

[–]ArabSigma 1 point2 points  (2 children)

When practicing, focus on creating a tight feedback loop so you can correct your technique. The quicker and better your feedback, the more effective your practice will be. Do not induce stress by trying to make things more "realistic" or by "practicing a harder thing". You are trying to be correct, not fast, smooth, or awesome.

I find this one to be especially tricky because sometimes, the practice and the real world challenges are radically different in a given discipline. When job hunting, programmers are told to practice algorithms and data structures. Interviewers will then proceed to ask them to solve a bunch of algorithmic problems to land a job that very rarely, if ever, requires algorithmic cleverness.

That strip mall karate school guy who can do elabourate forms but can't fight is educated and practiced, but not trained. He has not introduced stress into his learning process, so his skill performance falls apart under stress.

This cannot be stressed enough. Even the act of lingering in practice for too long will prove to be harmful when one finally decides to engage in training.

In machine learning, a model can become too faithful to the training dataset. This results in what is known as "overfitting". When tested against a dataset it has never seen before, the model will try to predict an output that is too close to what it was trained against. This ends up being harmful because the training dataset may have had quirks and outliers that the model will attempt to reproduce. Contrary to what one might believe, the model should not produce too high an accuracy in training. This should be considered a red flag. Ideally, it should be accurate yet flexible enough to deal with real world data.

To use boxing as an example : When a beginner practices a drill over and over and starts overusing it in a real fight, making his punches predictable.

Programmers who just learned about design patterns will try to force them everywhere even if a less engineered solution would be more suitable for the problem at hand.

In these examples, the feedback loop was indeed there. It only told us if the trained skill is technically sound, but it does not tell whether or not it would be detrimental in a realistic situation. To find out, the skill must be tested against a real world scenario, like you mentioned, and tweaked if need be, thus becoming a part of an even bigger loop that places the individual in a perpetual practice-train-test cycle.

[–]sky_fallen 0 points1 point  (1 child)

So you have to have some spontaneity/problem-solving rather than all practice?

[–]sky_fallen 0 points1 point  (0 children)

The training gives new and advanced feedback which must be used as correction

[–]monoeggs 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Hey, great post.

Any recommendations to read further on this topic?

[–]infiniteprogress 1 point2 points  (0 children)

I am guilty of the coward error. I have read a ton if self improvement books. And while helpful, action is the real educator. Thanks for spelling it out

[–]joshnash 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Great post, I'd definitely like to see more of these.​

I've recently started learning to drum. So I was singing out the snare and bass drums before actually playing it out one day. Sounds something like "dom-da dom-dom-da". Then I had this idea, to replace "dom" with a lower musical note and "da" with a higher note. Suddenly I have a pretty cool riff I could play on electric guitar.

I guess that's something also a part of the learning process but not listed here. Might be worth thinking about.

[–]Poloyatoki 0 points1 point  (0 children)

This was a great post. I remember when I started lifting at the age of 15, I looked like shit and had no strength. Fast forward a year later I got hold of Arnold's Schwarzenegger's Encyclopedia of modern bodybuilding. Once education and practice took place the muscle growth experienced through training was exceptional.

Anyways don't try doing stuff without first educating yourself. There is failures that will lead to success and failures that are a waste of time.

[–]trollreign 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Great post.

I'd add that as with many things, err on the side of going too quick rather than too slow. It's better to be thrown in at the deep end than getting stuck in the educating phase.

[–]SoulRedemption 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Great post. Much needed building block for the change people are looking for.

[–]primatepicasso 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Great post. Ive been tattooing for a month now as an apprentice and my work is better than people who has been tattooing for 5 years because I have been drawing fundamentals of art for 3 hours a day for 3 years. You cant tattoo if you cant draw on paper first

[–][deleted] 0 points1 point  (0 children)

I know a quality post when i see one. This is a quality post.

[–]CookieAdmiral 0 points1 point  (0 children)

I really like your breakdown. As with pickup, you learn from different forums/books, you find your sticking point by practicing (maybe open big sets for more stress) and then you go out and approach tons of girls. This method is for any skill. Great post.

[–]sanubhav77 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Brilliant post. If I analyse all my failures and success in hindsight, it all fits in.

[–]SensualSeduction01 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Training also has a feedback loop. You induce stress, your mind/body reacts, the previous stress is reduced/diminished.

[–]peakedattwentyone 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Also: using commas correctly.

[–]Apple_OfThe_Earth 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Dude, Thanks for this fucking good post! I find it sad that it doesn't have more upvotes. I bookmarked it!