"The problem is that the more skilled I become, the more likely it is that the skill fuses into my identity. If I already am something, when I disrupt myself by trying to learn a new skill (read:try and fail), I feel my identity unravels ... A lose-lose situation: if you choose to learn, your identity is in jeopardy. If you choose not to learn, you risk stagnation."
Johnson warns that once people think they're above a beginner's level of mastering a subject, their ego takes over and threatens the projection of their learning growth. Specifically, at the beginning stages of learning a new subject, people feel as though they have nothing to lose, which makes them more likely to accept failure as part of the process.
"Be in beta. Do things badly. Abandon perfectionism. Following this advice can seem nearly impossible when pitted against our identity. But when we allow ourselves to go into the rapid iteration of trial and error, like a child learning to walk, the feel-good neurological response just may charm away the snake of a strangling ego."
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