Reblogged: A lot to learn from the unknown

[This post originally appeared on Start as Close to the End as Possible, a blog by my good friend Joel Kelly.]

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Photo by David Michael Morris

I have a question. A question that I believe is very important, and one that I challenge you to answer honestly: When was the last time you did something for the first time?

I’m not talking about how long it’s been since you’ve ice-skated, or how long it’s been since you were a student. What I mean is: when was the last time you were truly new at something?

It may not seem like a big deal, and you may wonder why I’m asking. But trying something you haven’t tried before may be what you need to further your career, to become a stronger player, to gain confidence, and so much more. Trying new things, being scared, operating in unfamiliar environments, and doing something out of your norm are tremendous parts of learning – without them, you’re not likely to learn anything new.

Think about it. Whether at work or at home, it’s easy to remain in a situation simply because of convenience or fear of change. But if you’re unhappy with a certain situation, continuing with what you’re already doing is not the answer. You’ve got to try something new, and that applies to relationships, job searching and professional development, meeting physical goals, and so on.

Over the past year, I’ve deliberately challenged myself by asking this very question. And I’m pleased with the results.

I’m not talking about hugely transformational stuff. I started out with baby steps, trying a new yoga class here, and training to run 5km there. I quickly realized how much I was benefitting from these new undertakings, and how much it added to my personal and professional lives. I couldn’t stop there.

I soon joined an acrylic painting class, and was shocked to realize just how much I was craving a creative outlet. The course taught me a lot about problem solving, about perception, and about expression.

I didn’t need an art class to make me realize how much I have to learn about expression. Competent and skillful communication are both admirable and fascinating, and I’ve known for some time that I have a lot to learn about becoming a better speaker, a better presenter, and a better communicator. This is why I’ve recently chosen to be new at something else, something that, admittedly, scares me more than it should: Toastmasters.

So let me ask you one more question: What will you do for the first time? Don’t wait for the new year, don’t even wait until you’re absolutely positive it’s the right move. You owe it to yourself – get out there and experience being new at something.

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