Monthly Archives: October 2017

October 20, 2017

How Important Lessons Can Come From Unrelated Events

A little over a week ago, I almost cut off part of one my fingers. Now I will spare you the morbid details, but I will tell you that it wasn’t pretty – I’ve been typing with 9 fingers since then. I still have my tenth finger, I just can’t really use it yet.

I always ponder what I can learn from life events, and how those things might apply to other aspects of life. This occurrence was no different; three things came to me right away, and I’ll share those with you here:

There are certain activities that require your undivided attention.

We live in a world where very few things happen unto themselves. It seems like there is always something else going on, and multi-tasking has become the norm for many. Multi-tasking is not a bad skill to have, it just has a time and place, just like everything else.

Cutting something repeatedly with a giant sharp knife is not the time to have your mind on something else.

When someone is talking to you about something important to them, you should be paying attention. Listening calls for undivided attention, if you want to truly absorb and comprehend what someone is saying in order to answer effectively. All too often, people are either not paying attention fully, or they are creating a response in their minds while the other person is talking. You can’t honor someone’s attempt to communicate that way.

Practicing a skill and having effective practice time requires undivided attention. For people who happily multi-task almost always, this can feel down right painful to do. As a result, there’s a lot of running through the motions and skipping to the stuff that works well already. If you want to get better faster at something, you have to learn how to practice effectively. More time doesn’t equal better practice - that's been proven.

We all need to be reminded sometimes of things we already know.

Obviously, I know that one should focus when using a giant sharp knife. That’s not new information. But knowing didn’t keep my mind from wandering anyway.  It can be so easy to forget things we already know.

Oftentimes, a client will say to me, “That’s such a simple thing, but it’s so true!” The tone of voice suggests that it’s not new information, and yet hearing such a thing again can feel like a revelatory message. We just need to be told again.

Sometimes we have to tell ourselves the same thing every day. If you’re smart, you might assume that you don’t need to do this, and that’s usually not true. Smart people will assume that knowing equals automatically doing, and while that may be true for some things, it isn’t true for all things.

One of the most common examples is that of changing one’s mindset. People know that thinking in a certain way can be more useful and productive, but that doesn’t mean they always do it. They can even be told what to do and experience the power of this and still not do it consistently. Humans are like this – they can need reminders and help to stay consistent until something becomes a habitual pattern.

Sometimes you will need to learn to adapt.

Like I said, I’ve been using nine fingers for over a week. But just because you can’t operate at 100% doesn’t mean you can’t get things done.

I was amazed at how quickly my body adapted to having an incapacitated index finger. I thought for sure that typing would be quite difficult. And yet it really wasn’t. The body and mind can be incredibly resilient. Everything from getting dressed to picking things up had to be modified, and while it felt unusual and a few things took a little more time at first, everything was adaptable in some way.

So if you’re dealing with something physical, or psychological, or emotional, you just have to go with where you’re at and work forward from there. There’s no need to try to operate the same as before you dealt with those things – you don’t need to ignore them, you just have to adapt.

There are important lessons for us everywhere. In our accomplishments, in our failures and disappointments, in our actions, and in our observations. All you have to do is be aware and open to what you can gain.

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