How do you go about learning a new skill? Usually, your training will involve many correct repetitions of the skill you’re attempting to master. Through repetition, you can train yourself to become competent, if not excellent, in any skill you choose. Repetition is a remarkably powerful training tool.
One thing we may not realize, is that we can also training others (often unintentionally) by what we repeatedly expose them to. If we’re continuously on our phone, or have our face in front of a screen, whenever we’re with those close to us, what kind of message are we repeatedly sending them? What are we “training” them to understand?
If we’re always checking our phone or interrupting those who are trying to have a conversation with us, make no mistake, we’re training them that they are not important enough to warrant our full attention. We are training them to know that we will tap out of our interaction with them the moment something more exciting comes along. We are training them that they really don’t matter much to us. Regardless of what we may tell them, or actions are what will train them.
While it’s easy to get sloppy with regard to how we’re training others, it’s also easy to start changing our actions and behaviors to train those around us that they are indeed important and that they matter. We can decide to train them to know that we care about them.
Consider you’re recent interactions with those close to you. Through those actions, what have you been training other to understand? If you don’t like the training you’ve been presenting, then intentionally change your behaviors to align with the training you’d like them to receive.
I’ve been taking lessons to learn the electric bass for 3 years now. There have been a number of skills to learn, and I’ve struggled grasping many of them! When I do find myself struggling with a concept, I have come up with a 2 step process for speeding up my understanding. The 2 steps are:
- Write down my understanding of the concept and present it to my instructor
- Be open to, and ready to apply, feedback
Jotting down my understanding of a concept helps me clarify my thoughts and also presents my instructor with a glimpse into my thinking. From this glimpse, he can easily tell whether I’m grasping the concept or not. It’s really difficult to fake my understanding when I’ve just handed him a chart, summary, or sketch of how I’m interpreting what I’m learning!
It’s nice when my understanding is correct. However, most times, I’m usually missing something. It’s at these moments when my instructor can jump in and clarify a point. This is where I need to be ok with the fact that my understanding is flawed. When it is, it’s not a knock on me. It’s an opportunity to learn and grow as a bass player. Frankly, isn’t that the point of lessons: to find out in what skills you’re lacking and learn how to get better?
If you’re struggling to learn a concept, consider jotting down how you currently understand it, and give it to someone who knows the topic and will give you an honest assessment. Then be ready to learn from and apply their feedback. You’ll have inaccurate understanding to lose and new skills to gain.
When we start out on a new endeavor, we usually want quick results. Whether it’s getting in shape, learning a new skill, investing, or building solid relationships, we like to have positive results come quickly. Who wouldn’t? It’s fun and encouraging to see results!
In most cases however, results don’t happen quickly. They usually arrive slowly.
Therefore, we must put in the effort day after day, month after month, or even year after year before results begin to appear. The time between starting and results showing up is an easy point to lose heart and give up. Yet this is also the time when it’s also most crucial to look beyond the present, to that day when the results will have shown up. When the results are slow, we must be quick to remind ourselves why we want these results and also to remain committed to the process that will ultimately bring us the results we’re working toward.
If you’re currently pursuing something and you’re not seeing the results you want yet, take heart. Know for certain that results follow actions. Focus your attention knowing that your results will occur, they must occur, if you simply continue to take the actions required to get you there.
This week my wife and I have been working on several daily life decisions ranging from getting our next cat, to updating our insurance, to future spending plans. While these topics have created lots of discussion, I have come away feeling extremely grateful that we are both on the same team.
Through all the discussions and decisions we’ve had and made, we’ve both participated with the mindset that we are on the same team and are heading in the same direction… together. I’m reminded this past week how much I appreciate working as a team with her. Even when we have our differences, we understand that we both share the same last name, which makes us a team. We also realize that teams perform better when they work together.
So who’s on your team? How have you been well working with them lately? If you haven’t been performing very well as a team, perhaps it’s time to decide to start rowing in the same direction to achieve your common goals. If your team has been performing well, be sure to let your teammate know how much you appreciate them.
“The older I get, the younger my teachers become.” ~Unknown
As a life-long learner, I’m grateful for the people who have been (and currently are) willing to teach me. Whether they’ve written a book I’ve read, created a podcast, or sat down next to me to explain something, their willingness to teach me has enriched my live. I’m especially grateful that these teachers are often younger than I am.
As someone who’s been around for over half a century, I couldn’t imagine how adversely impacted my learning would be if I only listened to people who were older than me. If I carried the belief that there’s nothing I can learn from anyone who’s younger than me, I’d be willingly disconnecting myself from the wisdom and knowledge of a significant portion of the world population. What an awful way to move through life!
If sense a negative attitude bubbling up when you have the opportunity to learn from someone younger, check yourself. You may be on the cusp of throwing away a perfectly good learning experience.
How foolish it would be to miss an opportunity to learn something valuable, simply because pride and ego deafen your ears to voices younger than your own.
“The best way to succeed in life is to act on the advice you give others.” ~ Unknown
Have you ever observed a behavior in another person and found yourself either thinking, or actually telling them, how you feel they could have better-handled the situation? If so, here’s a news flash for you (and for me as well!): Unless someone asks you for your opinion, they aren’t interested in hearing your advice.
I don’t normally appreciate unsolicited advice from others, so why would I think someone else would be receptive to unsolicited advice from me?
My best option is to take my own advice and work on myself versus trying to fix others. Because ultimately, the only person I have control over… is me.
It’s so easy to see or hear something about another person and quickly come the conclusion that “they’re a jerk!” or “inconsiderate”, or any number of unflattering things, when we really don’t know what they might be carrying in their own life.
Maybe they’re dealing with:
- An illness
- An ill loved one
- A terminal diagnosis
- Lack of affection or kind words from others
The point is, since we don’t really know what’s going on in the lives of those around us, the kind thing would be to extend grace to others instead of ill-informed snap judgments. Because wouldn’t we all appreciate that from others?
I like working to improve different areas of my life. Whether it’s learning a skill, interacting with others, maintaining healthy habits, or following the teachings of Jesus, there are so many opportunities to get better every day. I find that encouraging!
However, occasionally (actually, more often than I’d like to admit) I find myself acting in a way that is contrary to the improvements I’m trying to make. To keep from feeling frustrated and defeated when this happens, I remind myself that although I missed the mark this time, I will do better next time.
I’m so grateful that missing the mark doesn’t condemn us to forever-failure status. We have so many opportunities to do better, because there is always a “next time” right around the corner.
If you’re working to make improvements in your life, but find you’ve been missing the mark, that’s OK! Simply think about what hitting the mark would look like, and commit to doing that the next time.
Many of the choices we make don’t require a great deal of thought. For example deciding what you’re going to wear today, what you’re having for dinner, or where you want to go on vacation this year, while important, are not life changing decisions. If, in fact, you do make a bad decision in one of these areas, the consequences are pretty insignificant. (Your life isn’t going to change a great deal if you had chicken for dinner instead of salmon!) However, for those decisions where the stakes are much higher, we must make sure we’ve gathered sufficient information and given ample thought to our decision before we pull the trigger.
One of the most important decisions we make is the primary person we decide to do life with. Whether it’s a spouse, a life partner, or significant other, this person will have a very substantial role and impact in our life. As such, this type of relationship should be entered into slowly. Only after we’ve gathered significant experiences and information about the other person are we about to make a good decision.
If you’re currently in the process of making this decision about someone, before you decide, you should have answers to the following questions:
- Do you know what your own goals and dreams are and what you, specifically, want out of life?
- What are the other person’s goals and expectations from life? Do they align with yours?
- What are the non-negotiable character traits and attributes you’re looking for in another person?
- What are the non-negotiable character traits you are unwilling to settle for in another person?
- How does this person align with the previous 2 questions?
- No, really! How do they align?
- What’s their worldview and outlook on life?
- How does the other person handle conflict?
- How do they handle money?
- How do they treat other people?
- How do they treat you?
- How do they respond when life gets tough?
- What guides them in how they make decisions and live their life?
The only way you will get answers to these questions is through conversation and time together. Lots of time together, so don’t be in a big hurry. The questions above are a list you can check off in a weekend, a week, or month. To really answer these questions, I think it’s important to observe someone for at least a year, if not longer.
Nothing will affect the quality of your life more that the primary person you decide to do life with, so spend the time to seriously answer these questions, lest you rush into a bad decision.
Here’s a piece of information I find liberating: None of us are perfect, nor are we expected to be. While I make an effort to do my best at whatever it is I’m doing, in my imperfection I often miss the mark, screw up, or fall short.
While knowing that I’m not perfect frees me up to try, fail and improve, knowing that I’m imperfect also reminds me that with imperfection comes responsibility. When we screw up or say the wrong thing, or a host of other things imperfect people do, we should be quick to:
- Apologize to those we’ve hurt or negatively impacted
- Own our mistakes instead of giving excuses or looking for someone else to blame
- Ask for forgiveness when needed
We should also be quick to avoid expecting perfection from others and be equally quick to show grace to others when they fall short, because isn’t that what we’d like from others?
Let’s work at being responsible with our imperfections, and graceful to others in theirs.