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Growth at the Point of Resistance

I have seen many people in diverse fields take some version of the process-first philosophy and transform it into an excuse for never putting themselves on the line or pretending not to care…
As adults, we have to take responsibility for ourselves and nurture a healthy, liberated mind-set. We need to put ourselves out there, give it our all, and reap the lesson, win or lose…
Growth comes at the point of resistance. We learn by pushing ourselves and finding what really lies at the outer reaches of our abilities.”
– Josh Waitzkin, The Art of Learning

I’ve been sitting on Waitzkin’s book for a long time, and finally started reading it when I’d chewed through other Kindle downloads.  When I read in poor lighting or when walking on the treadmill the iPad app and Kindle offer the most flexibility to get it done (I’m just not going to wear reading glasses on a treadmill, thank you). So Waitzkin’s book has lurked in the Cloud for a couple of years, pushed back by other, sexier books. And that’s a shame because it’s brilliant. But so it goes, we’re here now; front of the line. Here’s your cue Josh!

“Disappointment is a part of the road to greatness.” – Josh Waitzkin

There comes a point in your life, hopefully, when you re-commit to learning. Your ego is pushed aside a bit and you start telling yourself the truth – I don’t know this and I’d like to learn more about it. And you wade into the deep end, knowing you’ll have setback and will get overwhelmed and perhaps humiliated, but at the very least humbled. I’m humbled learning French. I’m humbled realizing a bathtub installation isn’t as easy as I’d hoped as I look at a tub longer than the advertised rough opening space. I’m humbled when a customer asks what version of Transport Layer Protocol we use. If life has reinforced anything for me, it’s that “I don’t know, let me find out” is the best answer.

It’s easy to spot a bullshit artist. They seem to gravitate to the spotlight. And enough people fall in line behind them that they might run a company, a church or be President. They’ll say what you want to hear, boost your own ego and collect you time, money or vote. It’s a lot harder to recognize that maybe you don’t have the world all figured out and then have the initiative and humility to go figure out where the truth lies. Right now I’m a long way from fluent French, but closer than I was last year.  Right now I haven’t won a Nobel Prize in Literature, but I’m a better writer than I was last year at this time and light years ahead of a decade ago.

I woke up this morning thinking about a bathtub drain. Mind you, this isn’t a typical first thought of the day for me, but I recognized in the clarity of early morning that I need to drop in the tub, I can’t just slide it in, and that changes everything. Damn. More work. But with the realization came the solution, and I know it will turn out okay. I reached a point of resistance with this tub, came up with one not-so-great solution that ultimately won’t work, and eventually found the answer somewhere between REM sleep and lying awake in the darkness.

The great thing about being alive right now is having all the information you need a click away. The problem with being alive right now is the flood of bad information, distracting nonsense and conspiracy theories out there. A little focus goes a long way in all things. I’ll never be a master carpenter or professional plumber, but I’ll get this tub in with a little help here and there. I may always sound like French is a second language for me, but eventually I’ll figure out enough to find out where the bathroom is and hold a basic conversation.  I may not win the Nobel Prize in Literature, but I’m learning a lot about myself through the writing, and hey, someone has to win it, right?  Stretch goals are inherently stretch you, just don’t go too thin in that stretch.  Know your limitations, but by all means test them. You never know until you try.

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