The value of going around in circles

I used to consider NASCAR as one of the world’s most pointless motor sports. But listening to David Heiemeier Hansson talk about motor sports changed my mind.

In NASCAR, participants drive a fast car in loops around an oval track while racing each other. The objective of this sport is to literally drive around in circles. On the face of it, it seems entirely boring and pointless.

However, this setup offers a driver unique learning opportunities. Since the track is uniform and well defined, the driver can do something different on every lap and learn from it. She could tweak the angle of her turn, decide which line to take on the race track or change the timing of her gears shifts. Her lap time tells her the effect of her action with millisecond precision.

Any skill we practice can be broken down into simple drills. While these drills may seem boring, they give us the opportunity to perfect our art one iteration at a time.

Writing this blog has its similarities to NASCAR. I write one post everyday. These posts are short and I often end up repeating myself. Nevertheless, writing and editing every post gives me pointed feedback on the choice of my words, the rhythm of my sentences and the relevance of my anecdotes.

Variety comes with the risk of staying mediocre. When things change every time, they offer plenty of room for mistakes to hide. Repetition is ruthless and doesn’t give you that luxury.

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