Time and again I have found myself saying (to others and myself), “see this as a thing that builds a skill within you.” That is whenever one comes across a personal or professional challenge, an inner or outer strife (with yourself or someone else), a conflict or a discomfort-causing activity. Its all about life skills.
Coming to think of it, we must all adopt this mindset – that life is one big, long skill development program. An apprenticeship with a practical curriculum wherein we are constantly exposed to new opportunities to develop newer skills.
I woke up this morning with the hangover of a contentious issue from yesterday – a former employee who made a big scene out of her exit from my company. In the morning, since I woke up, the entire scene and conversations from the day before were constantly playing on in my head. So much so that when I sat down for work, my attention was divided between what I am supposed to do and that chatter in my head.
Here I have a couple of options – I could resign myself to think that it’s just one of those days when challenges derail your schedule and not much can get done. Or I can choose the better option. Here it goes:
Usually I begin work in an inspired mood. Unless some such issue clouds my mind. In which case I would only attempt to crawl through the work, and just try to get the minimum done.
But this time I told myself – this is an opportunity. To work deep despite my mind being preoccupied. It’s like trying to ride your bike uphill.
An extra amount of challenge that makes you stronger. If I do it today, and then keep repeating it whenever such a day happens again, over a period of time, I will have built a new skill within myself – of being perfectly capable of peak performance in sub-optimal conditions.
What a useful tool to have!
So here I am, writing away in focus, even while the incessant pestering thought creeps through. Only now I have managed to reframe it – I tell myself that this is a skill-building exercise. I am rewiring my neurons to develop the capacity to create great work in muddy times. The more I practice, the deeper this skill will be ingrained in my system.
If I can expand this thinking to the myriad little and big happenings in my day, the 24 hours at my disposal would be filled with activities of skill development – little opportunities here and there to grow muscles.
If that is the case, then isn’t life one big skill development program? We join this program raw and fresh. And over time we get introduced to newer skills. And the chance to keep chiseling them.
Take a look at some instances:
- You are uncomfortable having difficult conversations. Till now, you have been shying away from them. But now every time you are faced with one, you are not bothered by the results but rather focus on doing your best, monitor how you perform, evaluate your results, keep note of the tweaks needed the next time, and move on.
- You sweat even thinking about going up to big names and striking up a conversation. Until now, you have done everything in your power to avoid ever doing it. But now, when an opportunity presents itself, you decide to show up naturally, practice having an authentic, free chat, see how well you did, and look out for the next one so you can do better.
- You are staring at a big report that you never started. What stops you is the size of the report and the fear of not being able to do a perfect job. Until now, your habit was to wait till the deadline approaches and then somehow square it off. But now, you get started ahead of time, knowing that there’s no such thing as perfection. You will simply write the report and get it done, then worry about polishing it. If it doesn’t turn out as well as expected, you will note down what needs improvement and implement it the next time around.
Its much easier when you approach stuff from a skill development perspective.
May be that’s indeed what it is.
When you are not worried about the awards and rewards, and meet each day with an apprentice mindset, those 24 hours will be full of beautiful learnings. To help you build rare chops at effectively steering life.