A couple of weeks ago, I was sitting across the table from one of my clients. She, like many others, is going back to school. Not necessarily a traditional student, and not necessarily pursuing a traditional degree. Instead, it made more sense to pursue a certification; one she’s been working on through her experiences for years without knowing it. Now, fully aware of where her experiences are taking her, she is moving forward on her journey to expand her professional horizons. You only learn how to fall if you stretch yourself, take a step, and move forward.
Here’s the interesting facet of her journey: she’s still learning and isn’t fully confident of her amazing abilities. And yet, she’s pressing on. All at once, she is failing and falling towards her next success. The self-help gurus will tell you success is not possible without the parameters of taking action and failing forward. My client is the epitome of those philosophies as she tells me how much she is learning, how lost she is in the material, and yet, how determined she is to succeed. We all can take a lesson from my client’s experiences. Sometimes, we may play it a little safe, claiming the status quo is good enough for the moment. But if we don’t stretch our wings, are we ever truly learning – or, living?!
I’m fortunate enough to have the opportunity to teach a class as a corporate trainer a few times a year. I impress upon the students that tackling the subject matter and experiences is a challenge, but in the end, by accepting the challenge they will be better for it. The same goes for me in terms of teaching the course; I have to stretch beyond my comfort zone to present the material to a live audience. I suppose if I taught more frequently, it would be less of a stretch. Each class is different – presenting different conversation points, response levels, and questions from the students. What if I can’t answer their questions correctly? What if I can’t build the credibility of the material? What if I just plain can’t hold their attention? Well, I guess I’ll learn from the experience to make me a better facilitator for the next time. More importantly, I’ll never know or learn if I don’t try.
Today is National Lifelong Learning Day. I don’t know the history of the day, or its celebration. However, I truly believe in the spirit of the idea! Why?! Because so often the mentality in the naivety of youth is that once you complete your school days, or “daze” as it may be, you are done with the learning process. On the contrary, as we find out with the passing of time, your learning may just be starting when you leave school behind. As my client, my students, and I find out as we fall, fail, and move forward, there is no other way to learn or succeed.