How to get better at the things you care about

Most people strive to do their best in life, whether it’s in their work, family, school, or anything else. However, many eventually realize that they aren’t getting significantly better at the things they care about most, despite their hard work. This TED talk discusses how this often happens because we spend too much time in the “performance zone” and not enough time in the “learning zone.”

The “learning zone” is when our goal is to improve. We focus on what we haven’t mastered yet, make mistakes, and learn from them. In contrast, the “performance zone” is when our goal is to perform as well as we can, and we concentrate on what we’ve already mastered to minimize mistakes.

Both of these zones are important in our lives, but it’s essential to be clear about when we want to be in each zone and for what purpose. The performance zone maximizes our immediate performance, while the learning zone maximizes our growth and future performance. However, many people tend to stay in the performance zone, hindering their growth and, ironically, their long-term performance.

To improve, we need to spend more time in the learning zone. This involves deliberate practice, breaking down our skills into components, focusing on challenges just outside our comfort zone, seeking frequent feedback, and ideally, getting guidance from an experienced coach.

Briceno also emphasizes the importance of having a growth mindset, a purpose to improve, an understanding of how to improve, and creating low-stakes situations where mistakes won’t have catastrophic consequences. He encourages spending more time in the learning zone, both individually and collaboratively with others, to achieve lasting improvement.