My kids have been out of school for more than 10 years now. It’s been over 30 years since I needed to sadly kiss my summer goodbye and head back into the classroom so I could put together bulletin boards and lesson plans. Yet, there is something about the first days of September that put me in a “back to school” mindset. The cooler air, the colored leaves, sweaters, football – they all scream of school and learning to me.
I’m guessing that many of you reading this message haven’t been a formal student for a long time, but I’m also guessing that you are still looking to learn. That must be one of the reasons you read this blog, right? You have some hope that by reading it you will learn something? I hope so!
I think that lifelong learning is one of the best ways to stay young, to keep stretching, to keep our brains active, not to mention – to learn some new stuff. It’s no secret that I am obsessed with learning! Why else would have I have a total of 27 years of formal education on my resume? Or why would I choose a career that focuses on individual, team, leadership, relationship, and organization development? It is because I firmly believe that life gets better and WE get better as we continue to learn about ourselves and how the way we show up in the world has an impacts others (for better or worse).
While people of all ages head back into classrooms this fall, I am inviting you to step into the school of YOU! You don’t need books. You don’t need a teacher. You don’t need to write papers (although journaling is highly recommended). You don’t need to go anywhere (although interacting with others is a key part of your learning). You simply need an intention to notice – look beneath the surface and your curiosity (think the 3-year-old that endlessly asks why). As I get curious about myself, I will continue to provide you with questions that I believe can help you learn more about YOU. What you choose to do with the learning is totally up to you!
I’m curious… What makes you feel trapped or like someone has put you in a box?
Let me tell you about something I recently learned about myself. It’s not a short story, so if you want to drop out now and go be curious by yourself, go ahead!
About four years ago, I decided that I liked golf enough to invest time and money in lessons, clubs and time on a course whenever I could work it in. For four years I have taken lessons year-round. I have gone to the driving range and hits buckets of balls. This year, I even blocked Mondays and Fridays on my work calendar so I could fit in at least two rounds of golf every week from April through October. I even bought a membership for a course near my home; 10 minutes away if I drove slowly. This was so I could go and golf whenever I had a chance. Seems like I am truly dedicated to playing the game of golf, doesn’t it?
So, why as of August 30th had I only played eight rounds of golf and two of those were on a trip to Canada? It was really bugging me. I decided that I needed to have a conversation with my golf instructor about it. He probed with the following questions:
When do you like to play golf?
What is going on when you have the most fun golfing?
Do you like to golf with friends?
Do you like to golf with strangers?
Do you like to golf alone?
What time of day you like to play golf?
I learned this: I really love to golf most with my son, who has a demanding job, or my husband, who is too busy to golf. My next favorite person to golf with is…ME! I love to golf alone. I really don’t like being put with people that I don’t know. I am there to golf not to put energy into small talk and getting to know someone that I may never see again. Lastly, I don’t have any friends who golf – NONE! Or at least none that have time.
Based on my responses, he had two recommendations.
1) Call my golf course and ask them when are the times that it is most likely I could go out and play nine or 18 holes all by myself.
2) I need to join a ladies’ league.
The ladies would only be strangers to me for a few weeks and then I would have several other ladies that I could call and invite to golf golfing. That sounded like a good plan and I left my lesson with some hope.
When I called my course, I discovered that they really don’t have any times when it’s generally slow enough for me to be confident I could head out all by myself. Maybe about 5:00 on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. I must have sounded a little defeated because the golf guy suggested that I join a ladies’ league and make some friends there that I could golf with.
There was that “join a ladies’ league” idea again. Every time I thought about doing it, I hit a block.
What was my problem? I am okay meeting new people. My golf game isn’t so terrible that I am embarrassed to play with people I don’t know. Then it HIT ME! It’s the commitment to a schedule.
OH MY GOSH! I have a problem with anything that is regularly scheduled! I began to consider my whole life – not just the golf issue – and I began to see that my entire life is built around randomness. There are only two things that have a consistent schedule – church on Sunday and the 10:45 a.m. Jazzercise class that I teach. I was taken aback by how many things in my life are random – and work well that way. I really don’t do anything else in my life in a repeatable pattern, and I tighten up just thinking about being in the box of a schedule.
That was a completely new learning for me about me! Apparently, I value randomness much more than I realized. It’s almost a relief to understand why I say no to so many things, or why things that happen at the same time make me crazy! At this point, I have not yet discovered what underlies my issue, but it certainly has peaked my curiosity.
Now, you can’t learn what I just learned about myself from any class or book or school or teacher – only by pausing and getting curious was I able to get an answer. My question was why don’t I go out and golf when I say I really want to? BOOM – the answer was much bigger than just golf.