Fractions and Wholes

This is part two of my reflection from the most recent Winter Olympics. If you have two minutes to spare, take a look at part one: Admire the Process.

When watching some events, especially ones where athletes compete on the single dimension of time (fastest time wins), anyone will notice that podium finishes are won or lost in fractions of time. 1/10th of a second, 1/100th of a second, that type of thing.

Though very evident during the Olympics, this observation is not unique to the Olympics.

Experts play in fractions, beginners play in wholes.

Let's take a slightly more accessible topic than competing in a Winter Olympic sport: Learning to play the guitar.

If you're a beginner, after learning four basic chords you can essentially play 100+ songs.

I would consider these four chords to be wholes.

If you're an expert, you can take any single one of these chords (wholes), and riff off of the many variations (fractions) to create intricate versions of any song.

Let's take one more topic: Cooking scrambled eggs.

Have you ever done it? Even this game can be played in fractions.

What I've come to appreciate about the idea of playing in fractions is that the game forces you to fall in love with subtlety.

The beauty of subtlety is that it can be infinitely complex.

I will leave you with this question: Of the many games that you currently play in wholes, what are you most curious to start playing in fractions?

Try it.


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