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Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Throwback Tuesday: Every Expert Was Once A Beginner

Photo from Verses & Inspiration on Facebook


In honor of Father's Day last Sunday, I am reposting this article. Fathers are often the ones who help their kids get up, dust their pants off & carry on when they fall.

Thought for the Day: As parents we have all watched, supported, & agonized over the struggles of our children as they learn new skills, but do we give ourselves the same kind of support when we need to change & develop new skill sets? 

The picture above & the accompanying statement cannot help but strike a chord with every mother (and father) who sees it. Who among us has not helped a child overcome the disappointment of striking out on the baseball field, missing a goal or losing a championship game? How often have we anxiously watched when one of our children has fallen on stage during a ballet recital or forgotten a line in a class play, knowing we will need to reassure them to get back on stage the next night?  As we wipe our teens' tears when they fail their 1st driving test or don't get into their 1st choice for college.

In all these situations we remind our children that they are just beginners & that there will be more opportunities ahead. We tell them that, "practice makes perfect." We let them know that "failures make you stronger" & that "mistakes are part of the learning process." These are not just platitudes although we have all heard them or variations of them growing up. As parents, we mean the words & want to inspire our children to work hard at whatever they are learning. We repeat these words hoping that they will continue working at the skills until they achieve competency. Once they become competent, if they desire to keep striving, they will be able to reach expertise.

Irene Piatrowski
Irene Piatowski 2012
Unfortunately, many of us are not as patient with ourselves when we need to learn new skills as adults. Somehow we seem to assume that adults should be able to succeed right away. Today, I read a Huffington Post article by
about Irene Piotrowsky, Canadian champion on track & field & world record setter from 1963 to 1973. I remembered her last name since is similar to that of a noted psychologist (Piatrofsky) who developed a scoring system for the Rorschach Test, but I did not remember her life story. She had come to Canada as a homeless war refugee & overcame multiple challenges to reach the Olympics. After the Olympics she welcomed obstacles & said, "The good thing about obstacles is that when you bump onto them, they keep you from falling down." Even though at age 71 she has come upon hard times, facing cancer & eviction from her apartment in Los Angeles, Piotrowski remains inspirational & optimistic.  In the Huffington Post article, they report that  she believes "her current difficulties are temporary... "I'll never give up," she said. "Everything in the end will be okay.""  She is a true wake up dreamer who plans to found a humanitarian organization she calls the World Peace and Goodwill Campaign. She says, "You can't sit like a bump on a log & just dream,,,,Get up, dust yourself off, & start all over again. Take the skills you have & go & improve them, make them better."

When you become discouraged as you embark on a new job or experience in life, I hope that you will find a way to call upon your inner "dream parent," like Irene Piatrowski does, & give yourself the kind of encouragement you would give to your child or a friend when they struggle as a beginner in a new endeavor.  Adults can be beginners, too. Life throws multiple obstacles in our way. You cannot become an expert without falling down, making & learning from mistakes.

I'd love to hear from you about situations when you have been a beginner & felt discouraged. How have you encouraged yourself? Who else has helped you get up when you have fallen or tripped over an obstacle?




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