The OK Plateau
Where have you turned on autopilot and stopped improving?
Just because we keep doing something does not mean that we get better at it.
Take driving. Most of us are better drivers than when we were first learning to back out of the driveway. We do fewer stupid things on the road with a fully developed frontal lobe.
But then we reach what Joshua Foer calls the "OK Plateau." We become good enough and stop improving.
(If you think you are the exception, beware the "Lake Wobegon effect." In one famous study, 80% of Americans thought they were in the top 30% of drivers.)
Hitting the OK Plateau isn’t necessarily a problem. I have no interest in trying to become the best driver in the world. As long as I’m operating a motor vehicle safely, I’d rather use my remaining mental bandwidth to listen to an interesting podcast.
What’s a problem is assuming we’re getting better at an activity just because we continue doing it. One Harvard study found that the patients of young doctors had a lower mortality rate than those treated by more experienced doctors.
If something feels as effortless as driving, then we’re probably not improving. The improvement process feels uncomfortable.
Think of an activity at work or in your personal life. Have you felt pushed beyond your capacities — and you have recent mistakes to prove it? If not, there's a good chance you’re on the OK Plateau.