Six Weeks of Everything

My mom often jokingly tells people I’ve taken “six weeks of everything.” For years I’ve wondered if that was a bad or good thing, like maybe it indicates I can never really work long enough to get good at anything. I’m pretty sure my mom never meant it that way. She likely just thinks it is a funny quirk of my personality that I have an insatiable desire to try things I find intriguing—not necessarily learn them to the point of mastery.

Just a few of the things I can or could get by doing:

  • Sign language
  • Writing children’s books
  • Twirling a baton
  • Speaking German
  • Swing/Salsa/Ballroom dancing
  • Taekwondo
  • Speaking Greek
  • Administering first aid to dogs/cats
  • Archery
  • Juggling
  • Film editing
  • Playing guitar
  • Doing CPR
  • Speaking Spanish
  • Sewing
  • Rock climbing
  • Directing live TV
  • Trapping and stuffing small mammals
  • Playing piano

….and I won’t even bother listing the long list of sports I’ve played or software programs I’ve learned. You get the picture.

Tonight I finished yet another six weeks of something. I can now write code in Ruby, a programming language. Before class, I watched a graduation of students from the coding academy who have spent the last seven grueling months building a marketable skill set. It was inspiring.

I, on the other hand, drove home quietly to no fanfare and without a marketable skill set…just six more weeks of something else behind my yellow Taekwondo belt.

But I’m thrilled.

I love tasting the world and broadening my lens. In fact, I’ve already signed up for my next six weeks…. JavaScript here I come! Then possibly oil painting or scuba diving….hmmmm….there are just so many things to try. I’ve decided that my life anthem must be “Try Everything” by Shikira from the movie Zootopia. It just fits. And it makes me happy when I hear it. It celebrates the trying, not the failing. It celebrates life the way I love to live it.

Learn It, Do It, Teach It …Preach it?

preach

Are you passionate about something? Learn it, do it, teach it, but don’t forget to preach it!

The learn it, do it, teach it method has been around for a long time. It is also known as see one, do one, teach one, especially in the field of medicine. In the Boy Scouts it is how everything is done. For example, you first learn how to tie a half hitch, then you actually tie one, and then you teach someone else to do it. It solidifies the knowledge in your head. If you have to teach someone to do it, then you better actually know how.

Recently, I’ve been challenged. And it has been a huge growth opportunity. What I have discovered is there might just be a fourth level to this learning style. Learn it, Do it, Teach it….and Preach It.

How is preaching it different then teaching, you ask? It is different in amazing ways.

Teaching something conveys an idea to help someone do or learn something new. Preaching takes it one step further. Preaching has to deliver the motivation to do the thing you are teaching. Preaching is about telling why the subject is so powerful or great.

A couple of years ago I did this at work with web analytics. I went on what I called my “analytics road show,” telling about why analytics are so powerful to inform strategy. There was teaching involved too, but really, I realized I was preaching. And I was passionate about it. Still am. That’s when this fourth level of learning really struck me.

Last year, I was asked to join a preaching team at church. The team preaches when the pastor is away. And wow how it has changed me!  Talking to people and expressing the passion behind the subject and why it is so meaningful to me personally and hopefully to others, too, is really, really powerful. It has taught me so much more about what I’m teaching and why it is important. I found preaching to be a lot like writing, which I’ve always loved to do, just much more public.

My last two sermons have been a bit on the “teaching” end of the spectrum…where I am more comfortable. But, I’ve been warned by my pastor that next time I might be asked to preach a sermon without such a strong teaching element. Scary. But I’m game. I’m always up for a challenge. Especially if I know I’ll learn something from it.

So whatever you are passionate about, go out there and learn it, do it, and teach it! But don’t forget to challenge yourself to preach it now and then! You might be surprised how much more you can learn and grow.

 

 

Life Lines

This is my life. Crazy! What does your life look like and what does it all mean?

This is my life. Crazy! What does your life look like and what does it all mean?

Graphs are incredible. They can show us amazing trends. And we can learn so much from them. I use graphs every day at work looking at web analytics or renewable energy use and they never cease to surprise and delight me. So it occurred to me, what would it look like to graph our lives? What could we learn? So I did it. Me, the person who doesn’t like to analyze the past, actually spent a few minutes doing just that. It was a bit of a stretch for me, I must admit.

Have you ever graphed your life? Here’s how I did it. Try it or use your own variation.

How to Graph Your Life

  1. Create a timeline from the date of your birth until today.
  2. Get four awesome colors. One for each of these parts of ourselves: Emotional, Spiritual, Mental, Physical.
  3. On the chart draw a line showing the ups and downs in these areas. This is open to your own interpretation. It is for YOU to decide what the lines mean. For example, on mine, the blue line represents Physical. I used the line to show my state of being primarily from an athletic viewpoint. You can clearly see where I excelled as a collegiate athlete and then crashed with various injuries, then gained and lost momentum like a roller coaster as I reached middle age.
  4. Now the fun part. Step back and look at it and see if there is anything you can learn from it. Or maybe just marvel at how weird life is.

What did I learn?

I am still learning, but here are a few things I learned right off the bat.

  1. I learned that life gets harder as you get older. Shocker.
  2. I learned that God doesn’t always show up when and how you would expect.
  3. I learned that we can never be at top physical shape again once we pass a certain threshold.
  4. I saw what I already knew, that life has been very hard the last decade. It was just strange to see it so visually.
  5. I learned that things are looking up right now, but other than my continually growing mental learning curve, nothing on this graph shows any sort of trend I can count on. Statistically, anything could happen.
  6. Most importantly, I learned that if I sat down with a group of people and we all drew our life lines, they would all look SO different. How we act and react at any given point on the continuum is because of our current state of being. Trying to understand where another person is on their graph at any given time could actually be very helpful to our interactions with them.

What’s your graph look like? I’d love to see it.