"Skill to do comes of doing." --Ralph Waldo
Remember homework? No matter how far we are from our last
assignment, we all remember homework―some with a bit more
fondness than others, I'm sure. As I remember it, doing
homework was never too much of a chore, but it sure is for my
12 year-old son. He is always questioning the logic behind
having to do more school work at home after an already long and
grueling day of school. First, it's hard not to snicker at the
"long and grueling" part. His school day begins 8:10 am and
ends at 2:30 pm. Sure there's the core subjects, but there's
also lunch and recess, P.E., art, and health science, (a.k.a.
home economics). I'm sure it's grueling to him, but it sounds
like heaven to me.
Anyway, back to homework. In my attempt to explain the need
for extra practice I've realized a much bigger lesson to be
learned: practice = mastery. That's not an earth-shattering
revelation when it comes to algebra, but it's often not
considered by adults when thinking about doing something new,
or even about improving a shortcoming.
I've seen countless people give up dreams because they
didn't have the skills needed to realize those dreams. Some
thought it was much easier for them to sacrifice the potential
joy of living the dream than it was to sacrifice the time and
energy to learn the skill. Others, sadly, gave up on their
dreams because they were too embarrassed to begin learning the
skills. Everyone is bad at something when starting
out, but the embarrassment of poor performance can be too much
to bear. What's left is remaining stuck doing only the things
you already know how to do. That box gets mighty small mighty
quickly! Soon, the rub up against the sides of the box creates
inner conflicts and leads to dissatisfaction and boredom. Life
is too long to go through it bored and unhappy.
How about the people who refuse to do what it takes to
improve a shortcoming? Is their refusal a result of
unwillingness to admit they have a shortcoming? Or is it an
unwillingness to learn skills? Maybe it's a bit of both, but
the result is the same: a long life stuck in a box.
There is always room for improvement and growth―and, in
fact, the need for it is part of what makes us human. Humans
are programmed to seek; we are naturally curious and are
instinctively on the lookout for more, bigger, better and
faster. The minute you see more, bigger, better or faster,
you're curious. But without the ability to learn something new,
joy-steeling dissatisfaction sets in.
For my son, I explain the need for homework in three
different ways, depending upon the type of his complaint:
- Homework is necessary practice to improve his
- Homework is a way to help him relax at school, knowing
he is prepared.
- Homework is a method for understanding how the
knowledge is applied to many seemingly unrelated parts of
life. (I remember being positive that I would
never need to use algebra ever in my life.
Needless to say, I was wrong!)
Anyone facing the challenge of practicing a new skill would
do well to apply these reasons also:
1. Practice is necessary for
2. The increase in
skill/ability creates a confidence that brings peace.
3. The newly acquired skill
can be applied to many areas of life, making the whole thing
The bottom line: Understand that you'll need to be bad
at something new before you can be good at it. Acknowledge
that everyone is faced with this challenge every time he or she
seeks growth. Grant yourself permission to fail a few times;
it's a small price to pay for a long and happy life.
"Skill to do comes of doing."
--Ralph Waldo Emerson
What do you think? Are you short-changing yourself by
avoiding a new skill? Have you ever taught a new skill to
someone and found his or her learning curve acceptable?
E-mail your thoughts to Lorraine @Peacemaker-Coach.com.
Life and fitness coach and author Lorraine Esposito has
been featured in broadcast, print and online media and is a
public speaker regarding personal leadership and empowered
parenting to community and school-based audiences. Find out
more about Lorraine at www.Peacemaker-Coach.com
and her latest book at http://www.morningpeacemaker.com
The Morning Peacemaker, How to get your kids out the
door on time without saying(nagging) a word.
If you have kids ages 2 to 12 you'll LOVE this book