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Dark Souls – Gradual Improvement

The Dark Souls games (including Demon’s Souls) are incredibly hard and rely on the idea of gradual improvement to get through each game. As you collect souls, you can trade them in for various stat points, which also raises your level (one stat point equals one level). The benefits vary based on the chosen stat to increase. A stat may increase your hit points and resistances, your stamina, your damage with a weapon (or ability to even use it), your spell damage, an so on. It doesn’t seem like much at first, but a single level can make a significant difference.

A lot of the difficulty in the Souls games can also be overcome by skill (knowing enemy tells, dodging, etc.), but that also requires gradual improvement. The first time you encounter an enemy, especially bosses, you have no clue what their tells are. It takes time, studying movements, a lot of dodging and/or blocking, learning the terrain, and a few (or several) deaths to really get a grasp on each situation.

Whether it’s through leveling and stat increases, or through improving personal skill, it’s all a process of gradual improvement.

Life works much the same way. In the first couple years of life, a child learns to crawl and walk one step at a time. Crawling starts out slowly, as the child learns balance on hands and knees. Walking involves a lot of falling down while learning to transfer that balance skill to two legs. In a sense, each milestone is a level up, with a certain amount of skill transfer.

As people go through school, including college, they’re increasing knowledge and learning new skills. The same can happen through personal hobbies, though those often leading to the next level of honing a skill. This is also true in the workplace. We become aware of more efficient ways of doing tasks. Or we do a task so often it becomes second nature and requires very little thought.

From the early years, through school, and into the workforce, every part consists of gradual improvement. Even people with natural talent for something still have to work at their given talent to become even better at it. Talent will only take you so far.

Failure is also part of the process. In Dark Souls, failure usually means dying, but you’re learning what doesn’t work. In life, failure at a task doesn’t mean the end of the journey. It means you’ve discovered what doesn’t work, and now you can try something else – you’re still improving by recognizing what doesn’t work.

In regards to creating a commercially viable lightbulb, Thomas Edison is often quoted as saying, “I have not failed 10,000 times. I have successfully found 10,000 ways that will not work.” Edison knew if he kept at it long enough, he would gain enough knowledge to create a better lightbulb. He understood the process of gradual improvement.

Gradual improvement is a life long journey. It applies to our lives from the moment of birth until the day we die. In learning about the world around us, both as a child and as an adult, we’re leveling up and improving our skills. When we apply ourselves to our hobbies, relationships, jobs, personal growth, and every other aspect of life, we are improving.

Sometimes, growth happens in leaps and bounds. However, more often than not, the growth comes gradually. The gradual improvement process is usually what results in lasting growth and change. Regardless of the timing of the process, take hold of it and keep pushing forward.