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From the Front Lines: Why doing what you’re good at may be the way to get better at everything

Build on your strengths.

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I’m taking an art class. The instructor, Alfonso De Anda, is a guy who loves skateboard art and is truly beyond cool. (He wears a beanie and colors in highlighter.) Don’t get me wrong. I like his art, and I like what he’s teaching us, and I’m not the slightest bit intimidated by his cool factor.

We’re meant to be drawing an hour a day for 30 days straight. It’s not happening for me – I’m drawing at the most five days at a stretch for the hour – but he said something in the introduction to this onerous exercise that made me perk up. We’re to spend the first five minutes of each hour, he says, in free drawing. “OK,” I thought to myself. “I can do this. It’s like free-writing, right, where you just write stream of consciousness?” I readied my pen.

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