This article originally appeared in the November/December 2021 issue.
One of the few ‘self-improvement’ or lifestyle coaches I have time for on the internet is James Clear. Author of Atomic Habits, I encounter him more frequently in a regular newsletter, which, as one quote says offers “the most wisdom per word of any newsletter on the web”.
Sometimes I get more from the newsletters; sometimes less, although they’re always of interest and not too long or frequent to become a chore. In what passes for my commonplace book, it’s probably the most referenced source. A recent mailing, however, had a quote which leapt out at me as relating to these confessions in one bit of advice it offered:
“Where to focus:
For the beginner, execution.
For the intermediate, strategy.
For the expert, mindset.”
It struck me that here was evidence that despite some readers’ (and editor’s) kind protestations to the contrary, I am still a newbie – whether I’m thinking about refereeing or writing. I’m very much still in the school of thinking that if you want to be a writer, you need to write. Quit waiting for the perfect time, the perfect place, the perfect pen. (Obviously some may want to replace the latter with keyboard/gadget/software as required.) Get on and write.
I’ve been endeavouring to do exactly that and some of you have patiently put up the results. For whatever they’re worth. Just be glad you don’t have to bother with the other two domains I also try writing for!
However, I’ve realized that I’m nowhere near being strategic about it. Yet. I’m very much driven by whim; our editor’s requests for something which happens to hit a nerve; or a ‘need’ to get something out of my system – whether an after-action report or my latest bright idea from 3am when I can’t sleep. The same is true for refereeing. I’m trying to execute (i.e., continue with and complete The Traveller Adventure campaign as you’re aware and I’ll take the opportunities TravCon offers to run one-off games but otherwise there’s little thought or planning in what I’m doing or why. Being strategic about writing, or refereeing, seems as if it’s a long way off yet. As for focussing on mindset – well, clearly that’s a step or two further. Or I wouldn’t waste so much time idly watching tv or pursuing too many interests to really concentrate on one or three well.
However, reading the quote* did at least alert me to the fact that I might be stuck in something of a rut, or perhaps a learning plateau, and that here was a path forwards. Such advice is worth its weight in gold and has already set me on the path of giving some thought as to how I might be more strategic in what I do. I’m not sure about that yet and it may yet not bear much fruit, but perhaps it’s a mark of coming towards the end of newbieness, to coin a word according to Word, that I’m beginning to think about it.