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What I've Been Thinking About Lately #19

Weekly thoughts at the end of the week

My good friend Mike Clements taught me how to solve a Rubik’s Cube when we were interns sharing a dorm room in the Summer of 2019. The most common method of solving a cube involves a series of 7 steps that each contain an algorithm (ex Right side up, top turn left, face rotate counter-clockwise, etc). At the beginning of each step you:

  1. Take into account the orientation of the cube

  2. Take into account the position of the colored squares

  3. Perform the algorithm associated with the step you're on based on the two parameters above

Initially, learning to solve the cube was an intensive thinking exercise. Every single turn required thought, not to mention the numerous times you fail and have to think about why you fail and learn how to not fail. Once you get it, it still requires thought, but it is substantially easier than all the previous attempts. Rinse and repeat a few hundred times and you get really good. You forget what the algorithms are and your hands just know how to effortlessly manipulate the cube to bring it to its satisfying end state.

By learning to solve the cube, you are building your subconscious knowledge to the point where making the right move is effortless. I liken this to reading good books. Hours of interpreting and injecting wisdom into your subconscious builds your response to situations that life throws at you. You won't be able to regurgitate all the information presented to you in a book, similar to how I can't tell you what the algorithms are to solve the cube, but the knowledge is there, guiding your everyday actions that make up your character.

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