Archives For January 2015

The Key to Learning

January 26, 2015 — 2 Comments
Image credit: Brady Beshear

Image credit: Brady Beshear

I recently attended an intense four days of learning – and I must say, it was some of the most focused (and fun) instruction that I’ve ever experienced!

The setting was the majestic rocky mountains, and the topic was snow skiing.

The format

The instructors were the best of the best. The lead instructor was an orthopedic surgeon whose main focus was to teach us the correct biomechanics required for great skiing.

Our group would meet for a couple of hours of classroom instruction, and then hit the slopes to apply what we’d learned. Then we’d repeat the classroom/skiing cycle in the afternoon.

The class had skiers of all levels, and we broke into different groups based on our abilities. Everyone was focused on getting to the next level, no matter their current capabilities.

Slope-side wisdom

On the first day, one of the instructors said something that still hangs in my consciousness. She said, “To learn something new, we must un-learn, or let go of some of our current thinking.”

As our time of learning and skiing progressed, it became evident that those who most readily shed their preconceived notions of skiing were the ones who improved the most!

The concept of un-learning to learn something new has a wider application than skiing. What got us to where we are now, most likely won’t take us where we want to go. That goes for sports, relationships, business, and life.

We must release what we know, to learn what we don’t.


What if I held tightly to all of the relationship “knowledge” that I brought into my marriage 28 years ago? I’ll admit, it’s kind of scary to consider the consequences, had I had refused to learn and mature in my quest to love Karen and grow our relationship.


Also, as I reflect on various business experiences through the years, I can see how much I learned from each company, each deal, each relationship. Curiously, most of my learning and growth happened during the most difficult periods.

The key to learning

Perhaps the key to our tomorrows is found in letting go of what we learned yesterday.

Maybe the step to the next level can only be taken when we shake off the weight of our current assumptions.

I believe that we can tap this “ski-slope wisdom” to develop any area of life.

What do you need to “un-learn” today?

The finish line

January 12, 2015 — Leave a comment

What can a high school swim meet teach us about life?  It turns out, a lot.

This weekend I witnessed an eye opening event at out daughter’s swim meet.

It was held near Dallas in a state-of-the-art natatorium. There were hundreds of swimmers competing in two end-on-end 25 meter pools – one for the girls and one for the boys.

Most events had several heats – and the officials ran everything like clockwork. Splits and finish times were automatically displayed on the digital wall boards.

The results were parsed down to the 100th of a second.

Then it happened.

I looked down at the girl’s pool and saw one lone girl on the starting block for a 500 meter heat.

The officials at these meets select the heats based on past performance, grouping similarly performing swimmers in the same heat.

This girl was apparently in a class by herself.

The race started and she dove in and started her 500 meter race. I’m still learning about swimming, but for the non-swimmer – 500 meters is a long race in competitive swimming. we’re talking 10 laps or 20 lengths of a 50 meter pool!

It became clear that no records would be set with this heat. In addition, the swimmer had failed to position her goggles over her eyes – they were sitting on her forehead.

Finally, the bell rang for the last lap of the race. Nine laps down, one to go.

And that’s when I began to hear it. A building applause for this courageous swimmer. As she swam her final strokes of the race, hundreds of people in the building applauded.

It was a smile, swallow hard and clap louder moment.

– and it’s not unlike what we’re up against every day.

You see, what the entire building of people recognized this weekend was there is more to life than coming in first place.

This is a clarion call for us ordinary people.

It’s not about the getting there faster than everyone else.

The components to meaning, and achievement and life are courage, perseverance, the spirit to try something new and the will to see it through to the end.

Undisciplined talent may take the stage and flash brightly for a moment, but it is the glow of the courageous, perseverant “one-person-heat” folks that will illuminate this world with purpose and lasting achievement.



January 5, 2015 — Leave a comment

How did you fail today?

It may be one of the best dinner-time questions we can ask our children.

It may be one of the best questions we can ask ourselves.

Edison had a different view of setbacks:

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

-Thomas A. Edison

Perhaps we need to shift our thinking about setbacks. Perhaps we need to celebrate them, learn from them, and recognize them as the signposts on the way to success.

I’ve learned that the blessings of wonder, growth and fulfillment most often lie just outside my comfort zone.

Our journey beyond the known, beyond the comfortable, will come with some setbacks.  In fact, our setbacks will confirm that we’re doing something right!

Let’s begin this week, this year, with a new perspective on failure.