Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Growth in mastery, the hermit crab between shells

Josh Waitzkin in The Art of Learning invokes a marvelous image to describe the growth process. The hermit crab protects itself with a salvaged shell it carries on its back. As it grows it has to find a larger shell; it never fits into the same shell for more than a few days. “So the slow, lumbering creature goes on a quest for a new home. If an appropriate new shell is not found quickly, a terribly delicate moment of truth arises. A soft creature that is used to the protection of built-in armor must now go out into the world, exposed to predators in all its mushy vulnerability.” The only way the hermit crab can avoid replacing its first second-hand shell with a second second-hand shell is by becoming anorexic, “starving itself so it doesn’t grow to have to find a new shell.” (p. 33)

If traders are to increase their mastery, they have step up from under their protective shells and expose themselves to unfamiliar, potentially dangerous conditions. Enough said. Others have written volumes on the topic, but I just loved the image.

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