Monday, July 18, 2011

The O.K. Plateau

 By Amy Baranski

People who know me aren't surprised when I say that I am past-due for a new job. I've inhabited the same role for going on five years--a lifetime by today's career standards. And I'm tired. I'm tired of the work. And I don't know what I want to do next. I've hit the O.K. plateau.

I'm extrapolating here from Joshua Foer's article that Melissa posted earlier this month. The O.K. plateau is what some psychologists invariably used to refer to as the wall. I've hit the wall with memorizing a poem; I've hit a wall with my career; and so forth. The wall was a place that a person "could not by any education or exertion overpass," thank you Sir Francis Galton (Hereditary Genius, 1869).

I found my new blogging leaf in Kauai!
Of course, Foer explains (in almost these exact words) that modern psycho-something-or-others, find this is rarely the case and that the wall is less about innate ability versus what we perceive to be an acceptable level of performance. In other words, when our brains decide this is O.K., even when it's just average, we stop growing, we stop motivating.

I think our hearts are capable of this too.

At times we love a little less, because it's O.K. And sometimes we do just what is minimally required, lacking the aplomb to try more, learn more, and be more. My will has been weakened on the O.K. plateau. I'm just as good as I need to be at work, not more. So it is time to move on to find something new. I find this to be an enormous task.

How do we resolve who we want to be with who we are with who we ought to be with who we find it just acceptable to be, and without religion please?

Foer describes a strategy employed for staying out of the O.K. plateau which consists of: Focusing on their [memorization] technique; staying goal-oriented; and getting immediate feedback on their performance.
"Amateur musicians, for example, tend to spend their practice time playing music, whereas pros tend to work through tedious exercises or focus on difficult parts of the pieces. Similarly, the best ice skaters spend more of their practice time trying jumps that they land less often, while lesser skaters work more on jumps they've already mastered. In other worlds, regular practice simply isn't enough. To improve we have to be constantly pushing ourselves beyond where we think our limits lie and then pay attention to how and why we fail."
I'm for constructing a world where the O.K. plateau doesn't exist, where goals are meaningless, and where the heart can't be weakened--a world where there is more love in our lives, exponential reciprocity in our homes, at work and at play, where we feel the whole pieces of all our parts blossoming, billowing, running free.


Matthew Fo-Fath-Ew. said...

Lofty aspirations. You have hit on a core of aspect of the human spirit. Whereas so many are ok with ok.....and then settle....your eagerness to get past ok in search of something great is inspiring.

Melissa Baumgart and Amy Baranski said...

Thank you for reading Matthew Fo-Fath-Ew. I am hoping my eagerness swells and does not dwell. -Amy Bo-Bamy

Melissa said...

It took me the longest time to figure out what "fo-fath-ew" was all about. I kept reading it and re-reading it. wow. of course!