Slowing Down to Get Ahead

I had a tough time getting good grades in school. It wasn’t until college that I started to do a lot better and got A’s and B’s. Although there were many factors for this, I know that there was one factor that really stood out to me that threw me off. I knew it then and I know it now, but I didn’t have a clue on how to deal with it until my actual working years.

The factor was speed. Every time I started to do bad in school and get closer and closer to C’s, D’s and even F’s in some cases in my classes, I always had an accompanying anxiety of feeling “left behind”. I just wasn’t learning as fast as everyone, else so I assumed there must be something wrong with me and that I just didn’t have a lot of intelligence.

This couldn’t be further from the truth. I have learned a lot later in life just how capable I am of learning even complex topics, and I know that most of us have this ability as well. The caveat is that I need to learn at a pace that doesn’t leave me feeling “left behind”. We do not all learn at the same speed and it is not realistic to put people in a class and expect them all to learn in the same way and especially at the same speed.

Some people need to spend more time on certain topics, and each individual has a different topic that will require them to “take a few laps” with before they grasp the concepts and can apply the material. This could mean an extra 20 minutes, an extra 2 hours, an extra 2 days, 2 months, in very rare cases this may mean 10-20 years, like learning advanced skills on guitar or learning to lead a company or becoming comfortable performing putting under pressure.

The point is, we must slow down when we hit concepts and topics that we are having trouble with. We cannot add the anxiety of feeling “left behind” everybody else. We must run circles around the obstacle of learning until our brain starts developing the new wiring. It is a matter of neuroplasticity.

There are strategies to use while in a “circle”, such as spending lotted times and then switching to a different topic, and then returning to the topic you are struggling with, and this is helpful and we should do this, but we cannot rush on to advanced concepts until we have masted the fundamental concepts that are in alignment with our growth.

It may make sense to jump ahead at times and pick a topic that is out of alignment with the growth of our fundamentals, but we must make sure it is not too far. We need to stay in a state of flow with our learning, where our current challenge is only slightly outside our current abilities and comfort zone.

I am going through a book on computer programming right now and right away they are diving into the concept of Big O notation. This is completely new to me even though I do have a decent amount of coding experience. I have dedicated two full weeks to this topic. Some may learn and be able to apply the concept in a day or two. Good for them. I do not have that luxury. It will simply take me longer to learn something like this than others and that is okay. Once I have learned this concept, I will move onto the next and I will continue to enjoy the process of learning.

The joy is in the journey, not the destination. Dedication to the process is everything.

“Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished ”

– Lao Tzu

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