Friday, January 28, 2011

On Continuous Learning

So, a couple of Fridays ago I injured my right wrist snowboarding in Breckenridge, Colorado, and the doctor put a cast around my arm because I got a hairline fracture in the bone connecting to the wrist. Given that I do not have the dominant hand available for use anymore, I had to get by without it for the last two weeks, and will continue to do so for weeks to come. As a result, I had to learn how to do several things left-handed, and that got me thinking about Obtiva's culture of Continuous Learning and how it benefited the process.

Normally, I would have been discouraged and handicapped for weeks, probably using my injury as an excuse not to do some tasks and constantly complain. Given the new habits ingrained in me after being with Obtiva for 5 years now, I surprised myself by having a totally different attitude:
"Why should learning anything with my left hand be any different from learning a new language, library, or technology? Couldn't I follow the same process of gradual learning with "beginner's mind" (as mentioned in Dave Hoover's book Apprenticeship Patterns)?"

And so I did, and as a result, I learned how to do quite a few things with my left hand that I could not do with it before:

Eating with chopsticks fast enough not to starve:

Using a TrackPad comfortably:

Diagraming and writing on a whiteboard quickly enough to effectively relay ideas to my coworkers:

Drumming with one hand:

I am very grateful to Obtiva for instilling the Continuous Learning culture attitude in us, and would like to encourage everyone else to have that spirit instead of letting negativity pose as "being realistic" whenever you are learning something new, especially under difficult circumstances.

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