Friday, March 07, 2008

sticking your neck out........



I am always doing that which I can not do,
in order that I may learn how to do it.
Pablo Picasso



Most days remain uneventful because we tend to stay within the parameters that make up our routines. Before you know it, weeks can go by without a tangy taste of something challenging, a hint of newness always felt when we break out of the pattern. The motivational speaker Leo Bascaglia used to tell a story about his mother's number one rule........that you have to learn something new everyday. When he was growing up, the last question asked before bedtime was.......

Did you learn anything new today?


If Buscaglia or any of his family members couldn't think of anything, his mother would fetch the dictionary so that they could look up the definition of a word that was new to them. That story has always stayed with me.........and I often find myself asking the same question to my kids, and silently will ask myself. It's a good way to start a reflective review of the day, and to see if you were challenged even a little bit at least once.

Our life journeys, especially the stretching parts of it are heaped with times when we experiment................when we test new waters......... when we learn how to do something new. It can cause a great deal of discomfort initially as we figure it out, but I truly believe that the more experimental one is........the more fulfilling life can be. It's easier to lay low and go through the motions of our daily routine. And it's our choice to do just that. But, I guess I'm just not the type of person who can settle for a life without feeling the stomach butterflies, and adrenaline surge, the buzzing of anxiety when I've pushed myself into a different territory.

Writing for example is always an experimental process. I may have an idea, but it's not until I sit down to formulate the words that I know where I may be headed with a piece or a thought. Any art form feels that way for me. And like anything creative, you may be satisfied with 1 out of 10 attempts. And that's all right............not all experiments work. But, the thinking and imagination never stop growing even if the piece completely tanks.


Perhaps the odds are even more limited for other pursuits. Take photography, for instance. Usually I'm pleased with maybe one out of every 20 or 30 shots.....but i keep taking them while I test out new techniques, different "framing..." while I mess with the different and unknown settings on my camera to satisfy my wondering. Curiosity coupled with previous success keeps me trying.

Maybe that's the key to living a life that continues to be experimental?

We are more apt to be if we have felt success in the past. Our motivation is spurred on by our confidence and self talk......... "well, I tried something like that before and it worked, maybe I'll try again..........." If we aren't capable of pushing the limits, we will drop the attempts. Very quickly the self-talk turns negative. Very quickly the confidence to stick your neck out to TRY evaporates. I see this often with the people I work with everyday. For many who have found themselves stuck in the cycle of poverty, where their lives are an accumulation of failed attempts the very idea of moving out of a protective bubble is daunting. Too many failures, too many blows to the confidence and a person becomes shy to try. The barriers go up forming a wall that is sometimes just too high to clamber over.

When I'm working with someone who appears to be stuck in this frame of mind, I usually ask them about their hobbies........"what do you like to do?"......... we don't stick with a hobby if we don't experience some kind of satisfaction. We drop it. For example, I may be really keen to be a high jumper, but I'm not built to be one, so I drop it and continue to find a hobby that suits my abilities. Our "side pursuits" can often be the starting point for someone who has struggled with one failure after another. When they respond by describing their interest, you can SEE a change in their whole demeanor which then allows the conversation to expand into possibilities. All of a sudden, the discussion becomes more animated........the "feeling" changes while a spark is ignited again. It's a good place to start.


There are some people who have the capability of jumping into something new with both feet. There are some who will wade into it with some caution and with much more planning in place. There are some who will stop and start and stop and start because of an incessant feeling of trepidation brought on by a sense of not knowing the end results. We all have our own pace when it comes to new learning......to trying something out of our safe parameters. But, the ones who have never had a chance to try on a new set of wings..........? These are the people we need to stick our necks out for..... We need to take a chance on them, to offer our support and positive coaching from the sidelines as they learn how to try, try again.



new tracks, new journey


This week's prompt for Sunday Scribblings is Experimental...........
for more experiments, click here!

10 comments:

Devil Mood said...

I love your posts!
I often think of that rule (learning something new everyday) but I'm usually a bit dissatisfied because I wish I'd learnt something more significant, more ground-breaking. Don't like to think of my days as being pointless though most of them are. lol
One thing that you mentioned strikes me as essential: accepting the fact that many of our experiments will not go as planned or as we wished. If we're in that frame of mind, we may not be so afraid to try, try, try :)

myrtle beached whale said...

Very well thought out post. Enjoyed it. Today I have learned that I am too tired and lazy to learn anything new.

Rainbow dreams said...

and if we haven't learned anything new, perhaps we have looked at something in a different way... or maybe thats the same thing.. I don't know! I know I have today :) Thanks Dana, x

paisley said...

wow... i havent thought about Leo Bascaglia in ages... i really used to admire him.. and it think it is time for a refresher course!!!!!

tumblewords said...

Learning something every day is indeed an integral part of the journey. Nicely written, as always!

Marja said...

Oh great Dana Love it and love learning new things. We had a game at my friends house, when we were young that one had to pick a word from the diary and write the true meaning and everybody else wrote their own version. When your explanation got choosen you got a point and when you choose the right explanation you got two points. We learned heaps of words. great fun.

Awareness said...

Devil mood.....thanks. A friend of mine who taught me the basics of flower arranging pointed out this little piece of advice. She said that if you are pleased with one arrangement out of 10, you're doing well. I think it's the same with any creative pursuit..... The learning often is more profound when we mess up. If we have the confidence to try again then we accept the lessons more readily.

The other thing I was thinking reading your comment is that I also feel frustrated sometimes when the learning seems so minimal. But you know what? It's just like writing. I would LOVE to sit down and write a novel. But who has that amount of time to focus solely on that pursuit? But if I write a little everyday, soon I will have enough material for a novel. It's the same about learning anything......our little steps accumulate. And in fact, it is the best way for someone who is new to learning to have very small baby step goals to reach for......that will lead to a much larger goal. This is how I help someone set up their learning plans.

MBW....and it's a good thing to learn! It's always good to have a BREAK from it all.

Katie...good point. Learning something new rarely means we are starting from scratch.....it often means that we are shifting the paradigm in our way of seeing and being.....

Paisley......I hadn't either!! In fact, it wasn't until I started writing that his smiling face returned to the forefront of my thinking! I found him so enthusiastic and cheerful......loved watching his lectures years ago.

Sue. Thank you. Writing is such a good venue for it too.....especially if one experiments with the type of writing. It why I like the weekend prompts because sometimes it takes us down different avenues than we may have gone down ourselves. Most definately a broadening and stretching exercise.

marja.....YES! I've played that game. Is it called Balderdash? I should pull it out again to play.

Gypsy said...

Well you know me Dana. I am always one for pushing myself out of my comfort zone. Sure it is terrifying at times but oh so satisfying when you look back at your acheivements.

gautami tripathy said...

Very thoughtful post. Maybe I too am afraid to leave my comfort zone behind. However, I do strive to learn something new.

Refluxing Life

LittleWing said...

yes, it is the adventure of life that leans toward learning.. yesterday i learned something new ... it is going to take more than a few more moments to put everything in perspective...