Or Skill Mastery
I was listening to a podcast the other day, and at the end of the session, the moderator asked the guest a number of questions. One of them was, “If you could go back, what would you tell your younger self?”
I immediately thought, isn’t this what I was doing with my children all these years? Trying to help them avoid pitfalls and mistakes? Teaching them lessons based on my experience? I hope that was what I was doing. Sometimes, the business of the day just got in the way. Other times, they just didn’t want to hear it.
When they were really little, about two—four years old, they responded to most requests with the statement, “I want to . . . .” This announcement usually included a foot stomp while they placed their little hands on their hips. Do kids instinctively know this posture? They all do it, but where do they learn it?
My husband loves to tell the story of our daughter Maddie, who insisted on picking up the dog poo when we were walking the dog! We really didn’t want her to do this—she was maybe three years old—but where do you draw the line while trying to teach them? Not letting them touch a hot stove . . . that’s a no-brainer . . . we can all agree on that. But picking up dog poo? We let her do it. And before you get upset, of course she had a poop bag!
Our son, Derek, was a very active two-year-old. At the gym, they had a nickname for him—Mountain Goat. While I was in exercise class trying to lose the baby fat, Derek was in the kid’s room, literally climbing the walls. He did this at home, too. One day, he opened the fridge and climbed the shelves up to the top and then shimmied on to the counter with a stick of butter in his mouth! There was no stopping him. The crazy thing was, he didn’t fall—even at two, he had good balance and coordination.
Maybe the podcast moderator wasn’t talking about how to do something differently. Maybe she was talking about character-building life lessons or skill mastery. Writer Malcolm Gladwell says that it takes 10,000 hours to become a master of a skill. That’s 90 minutes a day for 20 years!
When I was a young acting student, my instructor said it takes 20 years to reach success as an actress. I’m not sure about you, but as a young adult, I didn’t believe it when I heard you had to work at something for 20 years or 10,000 hours. That may have been true for other people, but not for me. I was going to beat the odds and prove everyone wrong. Now that I’ve had double the years recommended to achieve success, I see that it doesn’t always turn out that way.
Maybe we all need to go to the school of hard knocks. Today, this is called failing forward. Learning through mistakes. I’m still messing up all the time. I say the wrong things, and sometimes my projects or designs don’t work out like I think they will.
Could it be as simple as the poster we all saw in our kindergarten classrooms?
· Always do your best.
· Share with others.
· Use kind words.
· Listen when others are talking.
· Clean up and help out.
· Say please and thank you.
· Respect each other.
· Follow directions.
Now, those would be some amazing lessons learned.