Giving yourself permission to be a beginner

The extent of my Spanish is important phrases learned from Rick Steves, like where is the bathroom and can I get another glass of the red wine, please? But Catherine is learning it for real.

I’ve been blogging lately about beginner piano lessons — but of course that’s only one of many ways to push into uncharted waters.

My friend Catherine recently started beginner Spanish classes. She blogged about it, saying in part:

I’m resisting my instinctive urge to give up on something at which I’m not automatically proficient (read: awesome).

If this were a class on Napping 101, I would already have an A++ in the bag. Conversely, if this were gym class, I wouldn’t care much about my abilities because athletics are not my gift. I already know that, so no pressure. I do recall with something like fondness how my high school gym teacher, Mrs. Reilly, would stifle laughter at my bumbling attempts at field hockey and (heavens!) archery. Oddly, I wasn’t embarrassed. I knew she wouldn’t grade me on whether I was any good at whatever activity we were tackling, rather on my effort. So, I tried, I ran slowly and goofily, then headed back to the library, where I belonged.

But that’s the rub with this Continuing Ed business: academics are supposed to be my arena!

You can read more on Catherine’s blog, The Flamingo Room, here.

Of course we like to do things we’re good at — it feels good to feel smart and accomplished and successful. We love that feeling of mastery.

But how did you get to be good at that thing in the first place? Did you wake up one morning dancing ballet? Did you emerge from the womb with mad Excel skills?

Or did you have to make a lot of dumb mistakes, go slow, ask questions and eventually acquire the skills?

Author Malcolm Gladwell put forward what he calls the 10,000 hour rule — as Time magazine writes it:

Studies suggest that the key to success in any field has nothing to do with talent. It’s simply practice, 10,000 hours of it — 20 hours a week for 10 years.

If he’s right, then there’s no getting around having to start with the first hour and just starting the tally.
So learn along with Catherine by practicing some Spanish food terms:

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Categories: career, creativity, lifestyle

10 replies

  1. Hi there this is kind of of off topic but I was wondering if blogs use WYSIWYG editors
    or if you have to manually code with HTML. I’m starting a blog soon but
    have no coding know-how so I wanted to get advice from someone with experience.
    Any help would be greatly appreciated!

  2. It’s a beautiful thing, ain’t it, Lisa?

  3. awwww – I heart seeing all my favorite writers and cool chicks communing via the interwebs!

  4. It is a little daunting, Lara. If I picture practicing piano an hour a day, every single day, I get 365 hours of practice, and I’d have about 26 more years to go before I hit 10,000 hours.

    But in a way, it’s also liberating. Everyone who’s great at something had to do the time as a beginner to get where they are.

    So Catherine, you’ve got 28 hours in speaking Spanish, and maybe you’ll NEVER hit 10,000 hours — but you’re closer to it than you were a year ago.

  5. Well, here’s to us in our new endeavors, girl! 28 hours down, 9,972 to go!! Remember: the journey is the reward. 🙂

  6. I *just* heard about the 10,000 rule on Tuesday! What a daunting thought, but such an important one.


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