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Stretch Churn blog entry

http://calnewport.com/blog/2010/03/15/how-to-become-a-star-grad-student-james-mc
lurkin-and-the-power-of-stretch-churn/
Stretch Project != BHAG
TODO in BHAG == "Think Big"
TODO in SPC = Integrate new skills into skills repertoire by doing project after
project, each expanding abilities.
Ideal State for SPC == have completed multiple projects,
have cutting edge knowledge, be 'marinating' in a good environment ==
so *now* what would be a BHAG is water cooler conversation.
Underlying logic of SPC
1) To be a star in your field, you need to make an important advance in it
2) For this, you need bleeding edge expertise
3) Therefore focus on getting to the bleeding edge asap
(3) is extremely difficult. Most grad students reach *comfortable* levels of
knowledge, sufficient to understand research, make moderately complex
contributions, but not enough to make *bold* advances.
so ? == how to get to *bleeding* edge (vs acceptable plateau).
From Lurkin-Anita Flynn interaction
1. Write out goals each sem/unit of time.
2. End of sem look at what you did/didn't do.
key: get *estimation* correct.
key: Choose projects that are *simultaneously*
1. Hard enough to stretch ability
2. uncomfortable to do with present level of skills (i.e successful
completion needs new skills, new level (up) of skills.
3. Completable in a reasonable amount of time.
==
key (to get to bleeding edge where jumps are 'obvious')
== choose the right ( = 1 + 2 + 3 above) projects
stretch projects are an effective way to integrate deliberate practice into
fields without clear competitive structures and coaching.
If you re a figure skater, a top coach can walk you through the hard jumps you
need to get better. If you re a grad student (or entrepreneur, writer, or
knowledge worker), however, there are no such coaches to guide you through this
process.
definitions:
Stretch Project: A project that requires a skill you don t have at the outset.
Stretch Churn: The number of stretch projects you complete per unit of time.
If you re interested in building a rare and valuable skill in your field,
ask yourself a simple question: What s my stretch churn?
key: marker for stretch projects == constant state of discomfort while doing.

Expertise is destiny
A* strategy:
A* == 'grade' by professor who is blown away by student, thinks you did so
exceptionally well that it is *beyond* what can be captured by standard grading
system.
A* NOT == A+ (which is a bell curve edge thing)
Algorithm:
1.Choose ONE (or max two) major. Balance with minor courses if reqd.
Don't overload schedule.
2. Put an *intense* amount of energy into the one or two major courses.
3. Be an insight junkie. Develop a *bone deep* understanding.
4. Become an expert.
Problems: Slight disconnect between stretch project == discomfort/stretch