11 November 2020

1.5. Be patient.

While we have accepted time investment as a basic requirement for skill development -- e.g. learning to write, to perform simple calculations, to play a musical instrument -- the time investment necessary to understand a complex problem is frequently underestimated. Gaining understanding takes time.

Moving from data, to information, to knowledge, to understanding, to wisdom does come neither easy nor fast. It requires a substantial time investment into voluntary thought, deliberate thinking. 

Figure 1.5.1: Hypothetical effect of time spent thinking about a problem and understanding it.  

Understanding can be gained faster if feedback about your current understanding is available. In complex situations this is often not the case but must rather be bought from nature. "Good judgement comes from experience. And experience invariably comes from bad judgement." (Djerassi 1998)

Gaining understanding also requires taking breaks from the problem at hand and occupying your mind with something else. It seems that during these periods of distraction, your mind keeps working on the original problem without you being in control, suddenly resulting in an understanding of a previously impenetrable problem or concept. This phenomenon is called "the eureka phenomenon" (Asimov 1972). It is not well understood.