Not nearly enough, according to Kathy Sierra. The trick (according to the study she mentions) is to keep learning new and different things, not keep excelling and developing skills you already have.
For example, I write books. But writing books only helps develop brain cells for a while, until you get used to it, and then it stops helping. So you have to keep trying to learn and master new skills to keep your brain growing.
Kathy asks her readers what they are doing to learn new skills (she refers to it as Blowing your mind). Well, after thinking about it, I’m in the process of learning a couple of new things:
- Yu Gi Oh card game
I should probably add some more to the mix. Some things I’ve learned recently that probably helped, but are probably fully incorporated are:
- Ruby On Rails – I suspect that every language helps you stretch your brain, just not as much as the previous one.
- Laszlo – ditto
- Bejeweled Alchemy
One sure way to tell when you’ve wrung all the learning out of something is when it takes you just minutes or at most a couple of hours to master a new variation. For example, Quake 4 involved 0 new learning opportunities for me, Star Wars Battlefront II only a few minor new things.
Ideas on what to do next
These seem fairly accessible:
- Public Speaking
- Non-guitar musical instrument
- Learn another language, especially a non-latin one (German, Mandarin, Hindi, for example)
- Read and Write in those aformentioned languages
- Make films
- Art Photography
- Windows application development (maybe)
- Music Composition
More as I think of them.
Everyone’s homework – think of one thing that you have no skill or experience in, and resolve to try it out, just a little.