March 7

A few years ago, my family bought me a mandolin for Father’s Day. It was a wonderful gift, and it hangs prominently in my home office, where in a moment of pause, I often pick it up and noodle while thinking about the next sentence or a particularly sticky problem. The mandolin is a unique instrument with eight strings tuned in pairs, so four notes total, and is pretty technically complex to play because of its small scale and percussive nature. While experienced mandolin players make it look easy, for novices, it can be much more difficult than other instruments like the guitar. Fortunately, I had a few decades of guitar playing under my belt, so translating my existing skills to the mandolin was a little easier than starting from scratch. I’m certainly no master, but I can play well enough to make it enjoyable.

We often talk about skill development as if it means starting over in a brand new area. It seems difficult and foreign. However, when you consider skills that might “nest” well within your existing skill set, it’s like having a secret shortcut to growth.

When learning new skills, consider ones that nest nicely within your existing skill set.

What new skill—that nests well within your existing skill set—should you focus on developing over the coming weeks or months?

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