Water level just under your nose: an environment for maximum learning

Jason Yip
Feb 11, 2023

When I was in Sydney, I used to train Wing Chun under Grandmaster Derek Fung.

There’s a lesson he taught me about learning that has stuck with me since.

Imagine you’re submerged in water and the water level is just under your nose. Any higher and you drown. But somehow it always stays just under your nose.

That’s the kind of learning environment he was trying to create. Incredibly challenging, always just short of overwhelming, maximum amount of learning AND confidence building.

Picture of person submerged with the water level just under their nose. Arrow pointing to the person with phrase “Maximum learning”
Incredibly challenging, just short of overwhelming, maximum learning

I haven’t found a similar learning environment since.

This is the kind of environment I hope to be able to help others experience when I’m coaching or teaching. Haven’t got there yet.

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Jason Yip

Senior Manager Product Engineering at Grainger. Extreme Programming, Agile, Lean guy. Ex-Spotify, ex-ThoughtWorks, ex-CruiseControl