Continuous Improvement vs. Quantum Leaps

While reading Bruce Pandolfini’s book Chess Complete, I came across this passage:

The quantum theory asserts that people seem to make periodic and sudden jumps in chess improvement, rather than continuous and fluid ones.

Chess education offers peaks and plateaus, and learning the game goes something like this: Let’s say to climb to the next level of skill you must learn a thousand things. If you’ve learned 999 of those things, obviously you should be a much better player than when you knew nothing, but you may not necessarily show significant improvement yet. You still may not be able to implement certain acquired skills, so your overall play appears relatively the same.

But add that last piece of knowledge (the thousandth thing!) and suddenly, seemingly inexplicably, you jump to the next skill level. You’ve finally put it all together, and your ability has taken a quantum leap.

I found this really interesting. What skills involve quantum, periodic jumps in improvement versus steady, continuous improvement?

I would argue presentation skills, for example, are gained on a slow-and-steady progression, not sudden, significant leaps. Learning a new instrument, on the other hand, probably entails more sporadic jumps.

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