Or non-linear growth.
I’d say schools are the best and worst examples of this. The basic concept of moving up a grade is linear, and you’ll find enough teachers unwilling to stray from the A–>B–>C learning concepts. But you will always find at least one in your life (hopefully more) that goes so far outside of bounds that you come out of that class with a deeper appreciation of everything. (My personal feelings about teachers could fill a novel.) Your abilities in one area are rarely held back by those in another. They may have dependencies, or benefits mind you.
I’m a decent hockey player, it’s the sport I spent the most time playing. But I also played nearly every other sport possible, and I’m above average in most. I don’t really get by on the physical side, but on the mental one. You would be surprised to learn how most sports operate on the same concepts – in particular group play. Seeing the play happen before it does, and then anticipating the next step. That mental cross link is the key.
We see it in nearly all games. If you’ve played one tab-target MMO, you likely have all the basic skills required for another. Sure, you’ll eventually learn the specifics of that other game, the nuances that make it, well, it. Even some more basic elements, like not standing in fire, that translates to nearly every other game as well. Now the mechanics of how that fire is created, spread, and your movement abilities are game specific, but the concept of GTFO is the same.
Then you have skills that have very little overlap. I play a bit of guitar, and it has very little in common with other skills. Physically, I need to contort my wrist/hands into odd positions. Mentally I need to recall sets of notes, large structures, timing, and then the actual song. It’s a performance skill, meaning 99% practice, 1% actual presentation. And that 1% requires a level of confidence that can be hard to find. But when you try a bit, and you fail, and you succeed, you start to see how it fits into other abilities. Many songs are built on the same set of cords or transitions, so it’s less about memorizing the notes but the overall pattern. The rhythm in music is fundamentally based on heart beats, which many athletes are conscious about while active. The fine motor movement on the strings is similar to typing, or a heavy APM game like SC2. Even the wrist movements are quite similar to just good knife technique in the kitchen.
MH:W is making me think of all this due to the 14 weapon types. Conceptually they fit one of 3 molds – attack, defense, range. Mechanically, they are all quite different. If you use a long sword like you use dual blades, you’re gonna have a bad time, mmkay. But they do share something in common, they are all rhythm based. A charge blade is more akin to a waltz, where large sweeping and deliberate movements are key. Sword and shield feels like you are waiting for the bass to drop (defend), then go all out. The glaive is more like prancing in an instrumental ballet. Each weapon has a best suited monster to fight, where their own rhythm impacts its pairing. Rather than thinking the entire game needs to be learned from scratch, you can take previous experience in many fields and apply it here with great effect.
I am continually fascinated at how all my learning can be applied to other fields, and that there’s never really a feeling of time lost. Something as simple as making a puzzle forces you to look at the big picture before making sense of the details. Breadth of experience and understanding how to tap into that skill set… that’s the key to versatility and adaptability. Depth of experience certainly has it’s uses (e.g. get a certified electrician) but in the wide majority of cases it’s better to expand one’s knowledge rather than perfect it.