The Upside of Beginning
I remember learning to become a photographer.
It wasn’t in the dark room, or in art school. I was 11 or 12, and out on the docks in Newport, Rhode Island with my dad. I was shooting with my first 35mm camera, a chunky Minolta.
I had already learned how the camera functioned, but I hadn’t learned how to use the camera, until my dad taught me how to see things.
He showed me a pile of rope on an old fishing boat. At first glance, it looked like a pile of junk, but when he showed me how to see it through the lens of my camera, it was beautiful. It became art.
That day, my dad didn’t teach me how to take a picture, he taught me how to see the world.
When was the last time you were an absolute beginner?
Starting something new can leave you feeling uncomfortable, anxious, a little slow and even scared. Luckily, with those emotions comes exhilaration, pride and thoughtfulness. Look to the positive and keep things in perspective.
There are some things we grow up learning, like how to walk and talk, or how to be a kid, but as an adult, almost everything you do requires new skills. You aren’t born knowing how to be a husband, wife, mom, dad or best friend. You don’t know how to start a business or apply for a job. Those are skills you learn and grow into.
The upside of beginning, is that when you set out to learn one thing, the lessons that reveal themselves are often unexpected.
- When I learned how to develop film, I didn’t just learn how to bring images to life, I learned about the magic of science.
- When I learned to be a mother, I didn’t just learn how to change diapers, I learned about true love.
- When I learned how to self administer intra-muscular injections to treat MS, I didn’t just learn how to insert a needle into muscle tissue in such a way to cause the least amount of pain, I learned that there was nothing I wouldn’t do to heal.
- When I learned how to blog, I didn’t just learn how to use WordPress, I learned how to connect in a very genuine way.
When I became a mom, I had no idea what I was doing. I had wonderful teachers like my mother, and friends who were moms, but the one who really taught me how to take care of a baby, adore a toddler, and raise a teen, was the baby herself.
Count on your best friends to teach you how to be a best friend. Similarly, if you want to learn to be a good husband, learn from your wife, and wives, learn from your husbands.
I plan to always keep learning. My next new thing? I am going to learn to speak Spanish. I have attempted this before, but now I have a plan and something to look forward to. I have a great Spanish speaking support team on Twitter, and know that if I stick with it, I will be reading their blogs one day.
10 Ways to start something new
- Pick something. Learn a new skill, start a new career or move to a new city. All of these things will challenge you and teach you new lessons.
- Make a Plan. Don’t aim for perfection, but outline your approach. This will give you something to lean on if things get tough.
- Tell your world. Let your tribe know that you will be starting something new. They will love you and support you. They will also give you advice. Take it or leave it, but know it probably comes from love.
- Be Vulnerable. It may take longer than you thought, or feel harder than you ever imagined to get the hang of your new thing. Let your discomfort teach you. Revel in being a beginner. If you don’t know what your doing, it really takes away the pressure to perform. Enjoy that. It won’t last for long.
- Learn from experience. Someone else has learned what you are learning. Ask them questions. Watch what they do and learn from their mistakes, and their success.
- Seek the simple. There are times when you might make things more difficult then they are. Instead of complicating the issue with fear and anxiety, appreciate the parts you find easy.
- Enjoy the newness. Be in awe over the new skills you’re learning and your capacity to grow and adapt.
- Trust yourself. You might not be an expert on your new thing, but you are an expert on you.
- Learn about being a beginner. Mary Jaksch wrote a brilliant post called How to Live Life to the Max with Beginner’s Mind. Read it!
- Reflect. Think about what you really learned from beginning something new. It may have nothing to do with the original lesson.
Maybe you’ll learn a new skill, start a new career or move to a new city. Maybe you’ll learn how to be there for someone in just the way they need you. The upside of beginning is that whatever you decide to do, if you’re ready, you’ll learn how to see the world.
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