“A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt
We often think that learning takes place in a controlled environment like a classroom or an online course. Here, lessons are orderly, information is dispersed, and an opportunity to apply the knowledge we’ve gained is provided. While this is certainly one way to gain knowledge, the best learning and experience is usually gained when the wheels are coming off.
Don’t get me wrong, the base knowledge we gain on a topic from classroom instruction, or in other ideal conditions, is crucial in helping us develop an understanding of our topic of choice. However, when we find ourselves having to apply this knowledge to solve a problem in an uncontrolled setting where conditions are far from ideal, that’s where experience is forged. And that experience is valuable!
Consider the following scenarios:
Parenting a child through a challenging time or situation
Restoring a computer network outage that is keeping scores of people from working
Leading a family or team through an unexpected tragedy
Running a business during a global pandemic
Problems like these can easily cause us to feel like we’re in over our heads, which may be accurate. What we can do, is take the skills and knowledge we’ve gained to this point and focus it toward solving the problem we’re facing. No, it’s never fun to be in “rough seas”, but if we can see past the storm and be confident in our abilities to apply what we have, we’ll likely come through with a greater depth of experience, and even wisdom, than we possessed before.
It’s summer in the Pacific Northwest and that means it’s sunny when I wake up! I usually get out of bed around 5:30 AM, and most of the year it’s dark at that time, and depending on the time of year, it can also be rainy as well. Knowing this makes sunny summer morning that much more enjoyable.
Since I’ve started working from home, I’ve been making sure to get out and walk around the neighborhood before work begins. These sun-filled walks get me feeling good and charged up for the day ahead. I’m doing my best to take advantage of these beautiful mornings, knowing that they will soon be replaced by darker and even rainier ones.
My walks are a reminder for me to enjoy what I have while I have it. Before long, the warm sunny mornings will be memories, leaving me eagerly looking forward to the following summer, when they make their splendid return. For now, I’m doing my best to enjoy them while they’re here.
Do you have something in your life that will be, or could potentially be, gone soon? If so, be sure to enjoy it now, while you still have the opportunity. Because once it’s gone, you’ll be glad you did.
O Monday I was at the DMV getting my driver’s license renewed. Before I left, my wife mentioned she heard on the news that the DMV would be working with a new computer system that launched the same day as my appointment. This should be fun!
After I was called to the counter and told the DMV employee what I was there for, I asked how the new computer system was working. She gave me a look that made me think things hadn’t been going well, so I let out an, “Oh no!” Actually, she told me, things were going pretty well, largely due to all the training they had prior to launch. She said she didn’t like not knowing all the answers to the computer-related questions her colleagues were asking.
That’s when she dropped the quote at the top of this post on me. She mentioned she’d been doing her job for the last 22 years just fine and knew all the answers to all the questions and would rather not have to learn a new system and feel like she was starting all over again.
I get it. When we learning something new, we have little experience and lots of ignorance. It puts us out of our comfort zone, and that doesn’t always feel good. For me, however, remaining intellectually stagnant, by not continuously learning new skills, is much more uncomfortable.
When learning something new causes me to be pushed outside of my comfort zone, I remind myself that I’ll only be uncomfortably ignorant for a relatively short time. The discomfort of feeling ignorant will soon be replaced with confident competence. It’s a cycle that should be familiar to life-long learners.
Don’t allow the discomfort of temporary ignorance to keep you intellectually stagnant. Embrace the discomfort, knowing that your continued drive to learn the new skill will soon result in competence and the confidence that comes with it.
For years, I had heard about the beautiful scenery at Waldo Lake in the Oregon Cascades. I had never been there until Thursday, when wife and I finally decided to visit the lake and do some hiking. It was a clear sunny day with temperatures in the mid-60s. Perfect for hiking! And with regard to the scenery, Waldo Lake did not disappoint.
There have been a lot of places I’ve heard about in the past that pique my interest and motivate me to want to visit them. Waldo Lake reminded me that the only barrier that stands in the way of me actually visiting these places is my own lack of initiative to make it happen.
After visiting the lake, I wondered what took me so long to finally get up there, when the process to do so was so easy. All I did to make that trip happen was to state to my wife, “Hey, let’s go hiking at Waldo Lake on Thursday.” To which she replied, “That sounds good to me!” Taking the initiative to pick a date was all I needed to do to make that happen. How easy was that?!
So often it seems like the barrier between us and an outcome we desire is simply deciding that were going to move toward that outcome. And part of “deciding” includes setting a date and taking the actions to bring the desired outcome about.
Are there any places you’d like to go, things you’d like to do, or outcomes you’d like to see happen? If so, check and see if possibly, the reason they haven’t happened yet it simply because you haven’t taken the initiative to make them happen. If you find out that lack of initiative is the barrier, I’ve got good news! You can squash that barrier by taking action to make it happen.