“Every man has in himself a continent of undiscovered ability. Happy is he who acts as the Columbus to his own soul.” – Sir J. Stephen
Three years ago, I wanted to improve my writing… I started a blog. This past fall, one of my good friends wanted to learn how to shoot photography… she began asking questions of her photographer. This past Christmas, my sister wanted to learn how to sew… she sat down and received a starting tutorial from my wife. This past week, my 9-year old son said he wanted to learn how to cook… I showed him how to make a pizza.
Each of these examples had three things in common: 1) They wanted to learn something new. 2) They took an intentional step in their life to learn it. 3) And they discovered a new skill because of it.
Our lives are made up of desires – things we wish to accomplish. We desire to become better parents, better spouses, better painters, better speakers, better cooks, or better graphic designers. We wish we were better at reading, writing, cleaning, organizing, leading, counseling, golfing, swimming, interviewing, entertaining, or fixing automobiles. There are countless good things that we can add to our lives… and breathe new life because of it.
It can be helpful to be reminded that learning any new skill is a simple three-step process that holds true every single time.
1. We make a conscience decision to pursue it. This involves moving an idea from the back of our mind to the front. It includes a thoughtful, decision-making process (i.e., Is this new skill worth the effort? Will it improve my life?). It requires confidence, motivation, and intentionality. And it requires a breakthrough moment where we sit down and decide, “Yes, I’m finally going to do this!”
2. We remove competing distractions. Our lives are full. Learning a new skill should be fun, but it will always require time. And the more we wish to improve (or based on the complexity of the new skill), the more time and mental energy is going to be required. As a result, we must purposefully remove competing distractions. We seek to remove the correct distractions (television, video games, mindless Internet browsing, staying up too late, sleeping in too long, etc.) and leave the important ones untouched in our lives (work, our kids, our spouses, community service, etc.). And we carefully select the right seasons in life to add them.
3. We plan our next step and take it. If you are reading this blog post today, there are countless resources available to you online in almost every imaginable field. If you are in a community, there are likely numerous educational opportunities available to you through your local Parks and Rec. department. If you have friends, they have countless hours of training/experience in some very desired skills. And your local library likely holds at least one book relevant to any skill you’d like to learn. There is virtually no limit to the number of “next steps” available to us… we just need to select one.
So what new skill would you like to pursue in your life? And what is the next step you need to take to discover it?
Let me encourage you today to develop it. ‘Cause you can get better at anything you want.