DP Challenge: “You have to learn a new skill. Do you prefer to read about it, watch someone else do it, hear someone describe it, or try it yourself?”
Well, truth be told, I’d utilize all of those methods, but inevitably, it comes down to doing it myself. I’m a hands-on person. I learn through doing, making mistakes, willing to risk falling on my face – in most cases…. cough. In getting ready to answer the question, a slew of learning memories shot through my head, ricocheting off the backboard of experience. A stipulation to the answer would have to be who is depending on the result of my learning? Is it just me or is it my community? If it is just me, then get out of the way, let me at it! If others are at risk, I am more cautious and careful in the learning mode. What are the repercussions if I fail? In the really BIG picture, all experience and learning is a success. In the micro, not so much. It also comes down to time. If someone collapses in front of me, I need the skillset right there and then – it is not a good time to be learning what I need to know to save a life.
Learning is risk-taking, as is decision-making. It is also for my money the blood and oxygen of life. One of the best pieces of advice my mother gave me was when making a decision, “If you can accept that the worst thing that might happen, then follow the dream, the call, the necessity to answer it.” I’m on the other side of 50 and the big secret nobody ever talks about is that you are every age you’ve ever been. You are the sum total of the past, present and future and you can change the future. Skills and experience frequently depend on the age you were when you learned it. You know this is true because people react to and remember what happened the last time. If you stopped learning based on that one interaction or, be honest, several interactions, then you will approach the new based on the old. And, you will come to the new not in real time, but the age and maturity level you were at that time and place.
Some experiences stand out more than others. When I was young, I wanted to be a spy and thought it was best to be ready when the call came. It never occurred to me I could just apply to be a spy. I thought they sought you out. This led to one afternoon of skydiving. It wasn’t until after I had leapt from a perfectly good airplane and was waiting for my chute to open that I learned I was mortal. That’s that timing thing again. I took Tae Kwon Do and learned all over again that it hurt to get hit. By the time I decided to learn how to shoot a gun, I had enough experience and judgment to understand I needed that skill before I was in a situation that required I be really good at it. It was not sufficient enough for me to take classes and practice at the firing range. I realized that the evidence said that you will do what you are trained to do and in a life-threatening situation, your adrenaline is skyrocketing between fight and flight. The likelihood of my shooting an intruder and stopping him from harming me or mine required, in my judgement, that I be able to drill the target 10 out of 10 times, just to be able to hit the real threat in real time. And for me that meant every time.