Embrace Temporary Ignorance

“I don’t like learning new things” ~DMV employee

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.

What a Bargain

My wife just got back from a business trip and showed me a book on nutrition that she had picked up while she was gone.  As I thumbed through the pages, noting the many sections I want to go read, I was reminded what a bargain books are.

A book represents access to the author’s knowledge, experience, ideas, and creativity that likely took them significant time and money to acquire.  Yet we can have access to their insights for just a few dollars and a few hours of our time.  Think about that; what took someone a lifetime to learn, we can benefit from for a fraction of the cost.  That’s a bargain!

Regardless of whether the format is audio, electronic or old-school paper pages, there isn’t a topic I can think of that books won’t help us do better.

What are you currently working to improve in your personal or professional life?  I’ll bet there’s a good book on the topic to help you go further in that area.  As such, we should see books not as purchases, but rather as investments we make in ourselves; investments that have the potential to offer positive disproportional returns.