Just like skiing, being able to get things done with the least amount of effort and stress is a "skill" or an "art" (this is D.Allen's message to me in his book, and I can't speak for others).
Originally Posted by TesTeq
An art or skill is possessed by those who formed a habit of operating according to its rules. Bending your knees, weekly review, keeping your back straight, keeping a master projects list, learn forward, determine next actions for projects...these are all rules.
It would be interesting to have responses from a variety of long time GTD practitioners about what's automatic for them.
As far as your analogy goes about standing on top of the hill and receiving instructions but not having to gone down the hill yet, I would say this is the equivalent of attending seminars, watching webcasts or reading the book if one is to be congruent with Adler's terms and image.