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Learning is absorbing chaos

Daoist philosophy posits that the world manifests in a dual manner, desribed as the intertwined elements of yin and yang. Yang is often described as masculine, yin as feminine. Yang can pertain to the external, yin to the internal. Yang is hot, bright, outwardly, visible. Yin is cold, dark, still and mysterious. 

Yang can also charactarise Order, with yin representing Chaos. Yang is structure, discipline, reliability and steadiness. Yin is fluidity, unpredictability, chance and risk. 

In performance development, or in the journey towards mastery, being at the edge of chaos is a recurrent theme. We engage with anxiety, doubts, loneliness, exhaustion, and fear -  the fear of not having or being or doing enough despite all the work we put in. No guarantees. As we strive to make progress, we are eternally confronted with edges and limitations, be they physical, psychological or spiritual.

Most high performers are exceedingly willing to do this. 

However being on the edge of chaos is only part one, the first half of the game if you like. We must also stabilise on some level within the chaos in order to make this the new edge of our comfort zone. Another way of saying this is that stress + recovery = progress. We can also translate that as chaos + stabilising within the chaos = progress.

Therefore, our ability to benefit from being on the edge is intimately tied to how effectively we stabilise there. 

Quadruple Olympian and Volleyball player Reid Priddy said his success could strongly be attributed to his ability to learn. Indeed, learning is one way of transforming bits of chaos (what you don't yet understand, what you can't yet perform, what is beyond your capacity) and turning them into order (a reliable skill or piece of knowledge). On FindingMastery with Dr Michael Gervais he also describes his capacity to be ok with (i.e. stabilize) things when he realises he's got a big gap between where he needs to be and where he actually is in his development. Positioning himself as a learner is the mechanism he uses to do that.

Learning is making the known from the unknown. Progress happens by absorbing and stabilising chaos.