The Most Valuable Class I Ever Took: Lessons on Exponential Versus Linear Growth

The most valuable class I took in college was Keyboarding 101. It was an entry-level typing class. I was a terrible typer, entering the class with zero knowledge or ability on the correct typing form. With maybe one or two exceptions, I was the worst in the class. 

The class was 15 weeks long. After we learned the correct finger positioning and first started recording our typing, I was around 18 words per minute, which is really slow. Each day we were assigned a homework assignment which always consisted of practicing lines on certain keystrokes. For weeks I saw little to zero progress. Half way through the course, at around the eight week mark, I was typing in the low twenties for words per minute. Again, not very good.

Then something funny started happening with about four weeks of class to go. I started seeing drastic improvement. All of a sudden I was increasing my speed and improving my accuracy at a remarkable rate. I remember thinking to myself, “wow, this is amazing.” It truly was an incredible change, seemingly out of the blue. I went from the worst in the class to one of the best in the final four weeks, tripling my words per minute from the beginning of the year.

I learned two important lessons from this:

One, I need to be patient. Whether it be exercising, learning a new skill, or simply adjusting to a change, one of the biggest mistakes is expecting results too quickly and then giving up when they do not occur in a rapid manner. Second, growth is not linear; it is exponential. I often expect the former, but it is almost always the latter. This look like the difference between the blue line and the red line:

The keyboarding class was useful because I now type every day. In addition, I’ll never forget going from frustrated to amazed as I saw little results the first ten weeks and a tremendous change the final five weeks. I can’t stress enough the importance of this takeaway and how much it resonated with me. It would be well-heeded to keep it in mind.