Monday, May 14, 2018

Growth is an endlessly iterative process

We learn a lot in life from being wrong.  One example of this is that last year when given the choice of summer reads, I immediately rejected one of the books after reading the title and a bit of the first chapter.  It's only recently, when I found a used copy of the book lying around at school, that I picked it up and thought I'd give it a try.  While I don't agree with everything the author writes, it does give me a new perspective.  Today on the way to work I read the chapter about being wrong.

Sometimes we think it is bad to be wrong (or conversely that it is better to be right).  However what Mark Manson writes about being wrong is that we need to see it as an opportunity for growth.  He writes "Growth is an endlessly iteratively process.  When we learn something new we don't go from wrong to right, but from wrong to slightly less wrong ...  we chip away at the ways we're wrong today so that we can be a little less wrong tomorrow."

The other thing that I've thought about while reading this is that there is not often an absolute right - what we can hope for is finding what is right for us, and that may actually be wrong for someone else.  All of us have our own ideas of what our lives mean and how we should live them.

At school today I was talking to a colleague about the short video Why incompetent people think they're amazing.   It's a case of "you don't know what you don't know".  And yet people who don't know, are certain that they are right.  Manson writes that certainty is the enemy of growth.  What we need to do is to doubt the future, and that will push us to get out and create it for ourselves.  I'm thinking this is true for me.  My upcoming move back to the UK is full of uncertainties - I need to be proactive about getting what I want into that new life.  As he points out, it's all too easy for us to assume we know how the story will end - actually none of us do.  As John Lennon said, "It will all be OK in the end - if it's not OK that means it's not yet the end".  That means we shouldn't settle - when it's not OK it should push us out to do more.  The possibility of change is actually an opportunity for growth.

And here's the interesting thing:  we often don't know at the time what a positive or negative experience is.  We may find something incredibly stressful to live through, yet that something may end up taking is in new directions, forming us in different ways, motivating us to do new things.  Let's hope so.  As I wind down my time in India my life is full of not-OK days, but perhaps in the future I will be able to look at these more positively.  Already I find these not-OK times have been opportunities for people to reach out in kindness to me, and that in itself is very precious.

Photo Credit: skepticalview Flickr via Compfight cc

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