Learning like a mad scientist

Illustration of doc

David Perell recently wrote a tweetstorm/article about the recent US Open golf champion Bryson DeChambeau and how:

He just won his first major championship and is changing how golf is played at the highest levels. People call him “The Mad Scientist of Golf.”

I casually follow golf (and sports in general) and hadn’t even heard about this guy but this caught my attention. I’ve been thinking about it all week and going back to the article again and again for some inspiration as I think about how to be better in my chosen craft. Here are some themes that I am trying to apply in my own ways.

Try new techniques:

For all of golf history, golfers putted based on their feel and intuition. But Bryson uses a system called vector putting where he uses math to compute the break and determine how the ball will roll along the grass.

You can make your work creative through practice, and experimenting with new scientific techniques is a form of creativity.

Try to measure as much as you can:

Bryson gets instant feedback after every shot on the driving range, which is unprecedented in the golf world.

Bryson works out his brain by watching movies. He measures the peaks and valleys of his brain’s electrical current, with a goal of staying calm during stressful scenes. He also monitors his brain activity on the course.

Try to practice being great in other ways:

Bryson’s autograph is as unique as his approach to the game. Even though he’s right-handed, he often signs his autograph backward with his left hand.

Try to have fun:

Here’s a video where Bryson hits a driver with 203 mph ball speed. That’s insane. For reference, the PGA Tour average is 167 mph. He’s like a kid in this video too — playing instead of working.

In the end, the biggest thing that seems to jump out at me throughout the thread is that in order to improve you have to be willing to practice the skills of both soliciting AND receiving feedback on what you do. This can be through technology, human observation, or just putting yourself out there and sharing your work. This can and will be really uncomfortable and will elicit feelings of embarrasment and incompetence. You just have to push through it and respect due to Bryson DeChambeau, and all the mad scientists in their fields, for doing just that.

“Watching people struggle and having others watch you struggle can elicit all kinds of ego-driven emotions such as sympathy, pity, embarrassment, anger, or defensiveness. You need to get over all that and stop seeing struggling as something negative. Most of life’s greatest opportunities come out of moments of struggle; it’s up to you to make the most of these tests of creativity and character.” (Ray Dalio, Principles)

One response

  1. […] shared a bit about Bryson DeChambeau’s learning process before. This is a good […]

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