What helps growing and mastering different skills


This shouldn’t happen.” In our desire to grow and master different skills, there’s something (very basic) we often forget.

A baby fails at walking her first step, she’s cute. Once an adult, that same person fails at starting her first business, she’s a loser. She’s still learning to succeed, no?

Failure’s definition, as a word, as remained the same for a very long time: the fact of not succeeding in the achievement of a desired (or expected) result. Now, the meaning of a failure seems to vary, depending of the age at which it happens in someone’s life.

In certain situations, because we’re grown up, it almost comes naturally to think that we should have “grown up skills” (e.g. skills that have grown has we aged). Often in fields and contexts where we have no true expertise. The same goes for the expectations others have towards us, in different situations. The key word is “should”.

Mary has managed a garments company’s shipping department for the past five years. Now she runs a soft-drinks company’s shipping team. Both, her new boss and employees expect her to be able to “run the show without a flaw”… because of her past experience in shipping. Thing is, the soft-drinks company works in a 100% paperless environment. Everything, but everything is computerized. Where, at the garments company, a big part of Mary’s work involved handling a big amount of filed-by-hand paperwork. For the first four months in her new role, there were enough “flaws in the show” for people to start questioning her management skills and experience. “It shouldn’t happen. Are you sure she’s qualified/good enough for the job?

The novelty factor or differences between what a person is used to and what she comes across (in the new environment) are often overlooked by those looking from the outside. “It’s handling shipping. Should be easy for her.” As we sure want to succeed in a new job or elsewhere, peer-pressure tends to cloud our self-judgment as well, at times. “It’s handling products shipping. Been there. Done that. It should be easy for me.” Well, it might be shipping but it’s not done in the same conditions.

That clash between what is and what should be then puts “failure” and its outcome under a different light. We give it a different meaning. “How come I can’t do this?” “I’m such a failure for not being able to do (or be) ______.”

Truth is, no one is born an expert. We’re all born novices (e.g. a beginner, an inexperienced person who is just starting out at doing something, someone who has to learn).

Everyone sucks at doing something new for the 1st time. Even when you have some (or much) experience in doing a given type of work, it will have some flaws at the beginning, if done in a different environment or under new conditions. Not because you are suddenly dumber or have forgotten about how completing certain tasks. Because you haven’t learned and mastered the uniqueness and nuances of the context in which the dire-work now needs to be done.

More importantly, because, as you grow up, you tend to forget about the learning curve you have gone through so many times as a kid. Starting with how to make your first step, for instance.

In the end, if we keep remembering ourselves about the importance of baby-steps, and learning curves, it wouldn’t be surprising for you to come to a point where you make a “giant leap” in your own life. Simply because you will have gone through the curve (process) of learning the strings of how to succeed in a given field or area of your life.

It all starts with one question: are you willing to learn how to _______ (fill in the blank) and fail along the way, before succeeding at it?

Now, looking back to the past 2 years, when did “being a novice at something” served you well – in learning how to succeed?

Signature PF