Feeling Incompetent? Duh.

Here’s one answer, short and sweet and to the point.  This comes from Seth Godin.  I cozied right up to it. It’s a topic my blogging buddy, Dave Williams, and I discuss often in one form or another.

Seth thinks a lot of smart thoughts.  Writes about them.  Posts some of them.

Here’s Seth.

At some point, grown ups get tired of the feeling that accompanies growth and learning.

We start calling that feeling, “incompetence.”

We’re not good at the new software, we resist a brainstorming session for a new way to solve a problem, we never did bother to learn to juggle…

Not because we don’t want the outcomes, but because the journey promises to be difficult. Difficult in the sense that we’ll feel incompetent.

Which accompanies all growth.

First we realize something can be done.

Then we realize we can’t do it.

And finally, we get better at it.

It’s the second step that messes with us.

If you care enough to make a difference, if you care enough to get better–you should care enough to experience incompetence again.

Here’s me again:  Thank you, Seth.

Click here to go to Seth’s homepage where  you can read his blog every day.  Or subscribe.

Old Dog, New Tricks

I watched my toddler granddaughter’s anxiety mount as she attempted a new task.  “I tan’t do it!” she announced and went marching down the hall with her head down, in the dramatic way she has of dealing with technical mysteries.  Her mother followed to offer encouragement and asked, “Are you frustrated?”  “Yes!” the little one agreed, “I am fuss-u-wated.”  Her mother urged her to try again.  The answer was “I don’t want to.”

Each time I visit, I see her learning so many new things and I wish I could help her understand a concept she’s too young to grasp – that experience makes everything easier.  The knowledge of how we learn can offer the assurance that we will get it if we keep trying.  

I’m reminding recalcitrant beginners of every age that new isn’t as scary now as it was when we were younger, because we already have experience at learning.  Older people can’t learn?  Nonsense.  Won’t learn?  Unfortunately sometimes true.

My learning process hasn’t changed much with added years.  I digest new data by going through it three times, and then, most of the time,  it’s mine.   First, when approaching something involving substantial motor skills, I like to see it demonstrated.  For other kinds of tasks, I  learn by watching it or reading it for myself.   Second, I need to write it down, making notes I can refer to later.  Third, I’m ready to try.  Eventually I’ll absorb some version of what’s being taught.

The biggest difference these days is that I’m selective about when and where to fire up the learning process.  I’m aware that I don’t have all the time in the world and I know what interests me, so I choose to learn first the stuff that I want  to know or need to know.

For people who’ve decided they don’t need any new data, there’s plenty of science at work to show that using our brain cells really does help keep us healthy while at the same time forming new brain cells.  

I wish people wouldn’t say “I can’t” when what they really mean is “I don’t want to.”  We don’t need any more negative myths about aging. 

Ó  By Anita Garner