If you’re not learning, you’re not growing. Most of us know that. But at some point, somewhere, we became obsessed with mastery and expertise. We became obsessed with rising to the top by putting the pressure on ourselves to be really really really good at something.
Or at least to act that way.
But nobody moves forward by doing what they’ve always done. Most of us grew up in a system where year by year, week by week, we were pushed to learn new things (I’m talking about the normal school systems here). And I don’t know about you, but sometimes that was hard. I vividly remember having an emotional breakdown outside Mrs. Little’s fourth grade classroom because I wasn’t catching on to long division as fast as everyone else. Similar breakdowns would happen eight years later outside Mr. Farquhar’s IB calculus classroom. I digress, but it’s funny how the discomfort of learning has always been there when we’re challenged, regardless of what that challenge is.
How come we so often shy away from it then? And then judge ourselves immensely when we aren’t getting the hang of it?
Because perfectionism is a bitch. And it’s an expectation we gotta drop at the door. Learning is a glorious thing. In the midst of a week where I had no damn clue what I was doing, as questions were being fired my way that didn’t know how to respond to or where to find the answers, I did what I DO know how to do: ask people way smarter than me to rally around the problem.
And listen to them. And watch them solve. And hear their thinking. And take note of their responses. And see their documentation. It reminded me how I’d learned MOST of what I’ve learned to date — playing volleyball, taking tests, speaking at events, flirting at bars, running conference calls, owning a room, hosting workshops, going on camera — by watching people who are great at it. And taking mental notes of what they did. And then trying it out. And then making it my own.
So if you want to learn something new, go watch someone great. And keep watching. It’s why I play old episodes of Oprah on the regular. Studying research is great. Reading books is wonderful. But so much of what you learn will be by shadowing those already doing it well. You become a master by first watching the masters.