Life is “On-the-Job” Training | Blog


Life is “On-the-Job” Training | Blog

You can't learn to ride a bike by reading about it. Learning how to balance while pedaling can only happen one way—by getting on the bike. You can't learn to play the piano without touching the keys. You cannot master driving without getting behind the wheel and spending time on the road. Do you see where I'm headed? We could keep going. The list is endless. To learn, to evolve skills and competencies, we have to engage, we have to get in the game, practice, play, be a beginner. 

Think of a baby learning to walk. There are no shortcuts. They first start by learning to stand. They do this by pulling themselves up and holding on to things. Once they're up, you can see they are learning about balance. Their little bodies rock back and forth as they learn. The next step is learning to take those steps. How do they maintain balance while walking? The only way for their bodies to learn is by doing. They initially hesitate, but soon they can't resist trying. They fall, they get up, and overtime they're doing it. They're walking. Each stage is important. We would never try to bypass any of those stages. Each one is important to their development and to learning how to walk.

“Life-hacks” or “life-hacking” has become an increasingly popular concept. The idea being, that we can create short cuts to accelerate knowledge, productivity or results. In an ever increasing sped-up world, we have adopted the idea that “faster is better”, so we look for ways to hurry up. 

I've seen this in business as well. Business owners who are desperately searching for the shortcuts to improve their impact or their results. In our haste to “get it” in a hurry, we have forgotten the power of the learning curve. The thrill of being a beginner, and the amazing experience of learning, as we go. 

In all areas of our lives, we have an opportunity to stretch, grow, and have a whole new experience of who we can be in the world. We have new ideas we want to bring into the world; we are inspired to try something, to make a change, to move in a new direction—we want to follow our hearts desire yet, we want to do it fast or with as little wrong turns as possible.

What if every stage is like learning to ride a bike or that baby learning to walk? You must first learn to stand, then find your balance, then practice? What if the learning curve is actually the point? Where life happens and where we evolve and grow? 

Life is on-the-job training. There is no step that does not contribute to our unique journey. Every turn, do-over, new step or challenge gives us an opportunity to see more. To understand ourselves more.

We develop our craft by doing it again and again. We grow our businesses by trying, falling, getting back up and moving forward. Beginners engage and discover new potential and possibilities.

When we are learning a new skill like playing an instrument, paddle boarding, or dance, we understand that the more we do it, the more we learn, and we find our way. Impatience and frustration come when we want to be further along than where we are, or we want to be some idealized image of ourselves. We see the learning as something to hurry through.

In business and life in general, we compare ourselves to people that have been doing it much longer and feel like we are behind. We get discouraged when we look at other people’s journey and decide that somehow we are falling short.

Last year, in a conversation with a solopreneur, he was mentioning an individual in his field that he really admires. He said something along the lines of, “I wish I was as clear and eloquent as him.” We talked about where the clarity comes from. This person he admires has been doing his work for almost 20 years. My client had been a solopreneur for 3 years. I asked him how many conversations he thought this person has had in the course of his business. It’s likely, he’s had thousands of them. Yet, somehow, we want to skip that part and get as good as him without having to be new, or stumble, or find our own way. We want to skip that part. Yet, what if, that is where the juice is?

Everything is in service to our growth and evolution and, when we embrace the value of learning as we go, we find joy and fulfillment along the way. We treasure progress and all the many beginnings we will make.

In the process of accepting where we are, with whatever knowledge and experience we have, we begin. We start from where we are and discover that in the act of engaging, we learn and grow. We put one foot in front of the other and soon we find ourselves on a path that is uniquely designed for our own evolution. Designed to give us what we need, when we need it, so we can become the vehicle for what we want to bring into the world.

Life happens in the living of it. Everything we do becomes a vehicle for expansion.

“In our haste to ‘get it', we have forgotten the power of the learning curve. The thrill of being a beginner and the amazing experience of learning as we go.”

All of life is an opportunity for self-actualization.

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Barbara Patterson is the owner of a global coaching and consulting company helping solopreneurs, entrepreneurs & leaders access more clarity, creativity, have greater impact and higher levels of fulfillment in work and life. She is the founder of Beyond Limits in Business, a global platform and community designed to point people to the source of human potential. That potential resides within and is experienced via our minds. Barb is also the host of the Real Business Real Lives podcast. You can follow Barb on Linkedin and Instagram. You can also subscribe to her weekly blog on her website at 



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