Breaking Through Plateaus: How to Overcome Stagnation and Achieve Growth

I don’t know if you have ever encountered such a dilemma: one day you suddenly find that your ability seems to have come to an end.

It’s not that you’re not diligent, but your grades suddenly stop improving. No matter how hard you practice, you can’t make any progress. You’ve reached a dead end.

Should we continue to work harder, persist and persist, and miracles will appear? I want to tell you that there is no future. Scientific evidence supports that it is actually a normal phenomenon for growth to encounter a plateau. Everyone goes through this step, more than once. Two cognitive scientists, Wayne Gray and John Lindstedt, examined various data on progress over more than a hundred years and discovered a pattern – when your performance has stagnated, if you want to improve again, You have to lower your grades first. You can retreat to advance.

This is because you have to change your approach. The old method can only take you so far, and you are not yet proficient in the new method, so your performance will definitely drop when you first change the method, and a drop represents progress.

For example, typing. If you start typing by staring at the keyboard, you will soon reach the level of thirty or forty words per minute…and then you will reach a plateau, and you will find that no matter how much you practice, you can’t improve. At this time, you have to change your method to touch typing, with your eyes only looking at the screen and not the keyboard. Touch typing will make your performance drop, and you need to adapt, but only in this way can you break through the bottleneck.

Is this simple? The problem is, the method is not easy to change, you need help.

Professional baseball pitcher R.A. Dickey (hereinafter referred to as RA) was regarded as a baseball genius when he was in junior high school. Professional scouts came to watch his games in high school. In college, he represented the US national team and won an Olympic bronze medal. Then he was recruited by Texas The Rangers selected him in the first round of the draft, and the signing fee alone is said to be $800,000.

However, just before signing, the Rangers found out there was a problem with RA’s arm. His right elbow is missing a ligament. This puts his pitch velocity at a low ceiling. The Rangers still kept RA, but changed the signing fee to $80,000 and sent him to the minor leagues. If you can practice it, we keep a hope; if you can’t, the investment loss will not be big.

Of course RA was not willing to give in, and he thought of a way. My arm strength is not strong enough, so can I make smart shots? RA tries to give different speeds and spins to each pitch to confuse the opposing batsmen. It worked, and he made a name for himself in the minor leagues. Seven years later, the Rangers called RA back to the majors.

However, the story is not that simple. RA’s tricks didn’t work well for major league hitters, and he was mediocre and was demoted to the minor leagues after three seasons. Then RA continued to practice hard, and he practiced to the point of madness. He had to pick up a ball to feel the touch while driving… So the Rangers gave him another chance. Then he failed again.

RA was already 31 years old at this time, and other bowlers were about to retire at this age. I can endure the twists and turns of fate, but the problem is that RA can’t seem to improve no matter how hard I practice.

When he was sent to the minor leagues for the last time, RA’s pitching coach gave him vague instructions. The coach said that it is impossible for you to return to the major leagues with this kind of pitching, but I found that you can sometimes throw a “weird ball.” For many years, there has been a legend in the world about a “knuckleball”, also called a “butterfly ball”. When thrown, it does not go in a straight line, but swings from side to side, leaving the batter at a loss. That weird ball of yours seems to have some meaning. How about you practice knuckleball?

That kind of ball does exist. The orthodox pitching method of baseball is to wrap the ball with your fingers, and add a twist to your wrist the moment you throw it hard to give the ball a strong spin. In this way, the ball’s path is stable and you can hit it wherever you want. For knuckleball, you have to pick the ball with the nails of your index and middle fingers and throw it, deliberately not to let the ball spin. After such a ball goes out, the seam area and smooth area of ​​​​the ball itself will produce different turbulence in the air. These small turbulences will cause an uncertain disturbance to the ball, and the result will be a “zigzag” route. Not only did batters have trouble catching knuckleballs, but catchers had to wear extra-large gloves to catch the balls.

Another advantage of the knuckleball is that it does not require high speed and strength, which extends the pitcher’s athletic life, which happens to be the most suitable for RA. But the problem is, the coach doesn’t know how to practice knuckleball.

No one knows for sure. In order to practice knuckleball, RA must first forget the skillful throwing method and learn it again.

RA began to seek advice from teachers everywhere. It is true that there have been a dozen players who have successfully thrown the knuckleball, but most of them have retired, and now there is only one active player in the major leagues who can throw the knuckleball. All these people’s efforts are not systematic, and no one has summarized the theory. RA came to ask for advice one by one, and these people all gave him advice. Especially the current player, it is equivalent to telling RA his business secrets…

RA absorbed and filtered information like a sponge, and finally developed his own unique knuckleball throwing technique.

Those who helped RA provided him with a “scaffolding.” As you climb up, you may encounter obstacles that you may not be able to overcome on your own. You need to find a scaffolding to draw on. A hero cannot rely solely on himself.

At the age of 35, RA returned to the major leagues.

At 37 years old, RA was already an elite player in the major leagues, but he wanted to take another step further. At this point in your career, it is no longer a matter of skill level, it requires a mental breakthrough.

This time, the scaffolding RA found was for climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest peak in Africa. It was his childhood dream, and he gave the trip a special meaning: as long as he could reach the top, sponsors would raise money for charity.

This activity was very risky, but it took RA seven days to reach the top. He felt deeply that he was smaller than ever at the top of the mountain, and “this feeling was intoxicating.”

Perhaps it was the sense of insignificance brought by mountain climbing and the sense of contribution to charity that raised RA’s upper limit. After coming down the mountain, RA played the best season of his career and set several records.

Change course, ask for guidance, help each other—think about the scaffolding you have when you hit a wall in your progress.

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