Six years ago while reading Joshua Waitzkin’s The Art of Learning I came up with a definition for high performance, learning, creating art, life skills, mastery, _______ (insert your favorite place holder for the domain of personal/professional development), etc. I called it CPB Growth. Cultivating, Practicing, Barrierlessness in order to grow oneself and their pursuits.

Barrierlessness is Waitzkin’s word for: Breaking down the artificial barriers between diverse life experiences so all moments become enriched by a sense of interconnectedness. I loved this book then and I love this book today, and what I still love the most is this word Barrierlessness. Shortly after learning this word I thought about what is involved in pursuing barrierlessness and then I realized that it simply had two parts, like “Chop Wood/Carry Water.”

Cultivation is the process of either initial comprehension or refining one’s understanding of a skillset. You cannot practice juggling if you don’t know how to juggle. Therefore, you cultivate the skill of juggling where you can eventually do it for a couple of repetitions. Once you have accomplished this, you are now capable of practicing, practicing, practicing. You cannot play a song on the guitar until you learn a couple chords. Once you have learned those chords and can fluently transition between the two, you are capable of practicing, practicing, practicing…

Then, at some point in the future, you return to the process of cultivation. You layer on some more foundational understanding and comprehension and then return to practicing, practicing, practicing.

Cultivating, Practicing Barrierlessness is an iterative process and one in which refinement and repetition reign supreme. This is craft. This is mastery. This sometimes feels like flow, fluidity, and finesse… and sometimes feels like frustration, fixation, and fear.

The professional is highly committed to this process, regardless of whether his or her current experience is of the flow sort or the frustration sort. The professional remembers to reward the repetition by zooming out and being open and curious about how this moment will influence the next moment by filling his or her subconscious with ammunition for pattern recognition. This prospective pattern recognition sets the stage for flow, fluidity, and finesse…

Sometimes you cultivate and sometimes you practice. Sometimes you do both simultaneously. And sometimes you glimpse barrierlessness and transcend cultivating and practicing altogether: You are you without the narrative, without the agenda, and without concern for past and future. You are experiencing an unadulterated state of being as a result of a lot of preconditions for this state colliding. At best, it’s a reminder for what is possible and how we and others are so much more than all the different ways we define ourselves amongst the chatter that bombards us.

And then, back to cultivating… back to practicing… and choosing to break down barriers. Rinse and repeat. This is the mental diet for pursuing meaning and being of service.

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