I think it’s true that we can improve at anything. This even applies to being a beginner! There’s no doubt that I’m a far better beginner than I used to be. Perhaps it’s because I’m more appreciative of the joy to be found in learning something new. Perhaps it’s because I’m less bothered by not being able to do something; less self-conscious and embarrassed. It might also be because I’ve learned to enjoy, and trust in, the process rather than be too fixated on the result. This is certainly the case in my new hobby - going to the gym to try to ‘bulk up’ and build some muscle. Now, I’m a healthy bloke and a reasonable runner, but lifting weights is in a room full of people is way outside of my comfort zone! I’ve tried before but felt out of my depth, so this time I decided to hire a personal trainer to teach me the correct techniques and provide me with a strategy. So, I find myself back to being a complete novice, needing guidance and instruction on the very basics. What a revelation! I’m a much-improved beginner! Ultimately, I think the thing that’s changed the most for me is that I’m able to leave aside my ego. I’m pretty sure my ego that has prevented me from reaching my potential in many things, or at least slowed me down. I put drumming in this category (I made a living out of playing the drums for many years but still feels miles away from reaching my full potential). When I was in my initial stages of development, I was far too worried about ‘getting it wrong’ and feeling embarrassed. This stifled me, leading me to play safe and stick to what I knew, rather than step out of my comfort zone, take risks, and develop my style and creativity. When lifting weights, I’m happy to make ‘mistakes’ because getting things wrong provides me with instant opportunities to improve and get better. This is so rewarding because it helps me to (slowly) develop a good foundation upon which to build. Plus, I get to enjoy the satisfaction of developing new skills and working towards new goals. But perhaps the most satisfying thing is that it reminds me how it feels to be a beginner, to feel awkward and out of my comfort zone. This is how many people feel when they arrive for their first counselling session. But if we can learn to embrace those initial feelings and take those first steps, there is so much to be gained.
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