Skip the Fundamentals

“We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”

Walt Disney

Learning the fundamentals is an important part of mastering any skill. By building a solid foundation, you give yourself a broader vocabulary to work with. For example, learning scales, chords, and playing by ear on an instrument will open the doors to learning any song.

But, I question whether or not starting with the fundamentals is a good idea. Or at least, I don’t think it works universally as a perfect starting point for beginners.

Have you heard of the concept of something “being on rails”? It’s generally applied to video games or a ride at an amusement park.

Fundamentals are fantastic and an essential thing to learn, but they can also lock us into a specific way of thinking—which also happens to be how everyone else and their mother thinks too.

Structure isn’t always beneficial. Sometimes you just need to sit in front of a sketchbook, or piano or box of legos, and see what comes out of your imagination. Sometimes it’s better to just throw ourselves in the middle of something and figure things out.

Skipping the fundamentals can also be an advantage. By jumping right in, playing around and learning things on your own, you can give your art/work a unique angle. Why? Because you don’t know the rules. You don’t know you’re doing something out of the ordinary or “wrong”.

Without the fundamentals, you don’t know any better. Which one hand, could cause you to pick up some bad habits, but on the other hand, could lead to new ways of thinking and creating.

When we don’t know the rules, we don’t know we are breaking the rules. This is hazardous for public pools, office rules, and social situations. But when it comes to creativity, not knowing what’s “impossible” is an opportunity to create something original.

As artists and entrepreneurs, thinking something is “impossible” or “improbable” is very closed-minded thinking. By thinking something is impossible for us to do, we’ve already boxed ourselves in from ever being able to do it. While at the same time we think it’s impossible because of X, Y Z reason, some naive bold person out there is building it and figure it out anyway.

Of course, fundamentals aren’t always bad. Knowing how to do your taxes is a good skill to have. The key is to take the time to discover things on your own first and to let your curiosity and imagination drive you first. Then add the fundamentals to what’ve you’ve discovered and experienced on your own to enhance your skills even further.

It’s much easier to add to your knowledge than take it away.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1022

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