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Ice Skating and the Arena of Life

For CeCe’s 6th birthday, we went ice skating. I’m not sure if you both remember this, but it was a really fun day. Ce was very excited about learning this new, exotic skill and she got out onto the ice with gusto. Linc was also eager to learn. But then, Ce saw him fall a few times. Her balance was unsteady and she got scared - a completely normal reaction. Ce started listening to the teacher more closely. Linc on the other hand, just kept getting up and falling, having fun the whole way. Both of you had a very different approach to starting a new skill on that day. It made me think about trying new things in life.


When you start a new job, go to a new school, make new friends, get into a new relationship, try a new class…and it is awkward at first. It is uncomfortable. You don’t know what you are doing. Not knowing what you are doing should be a humbling experience. But, if you keep getting up and if you push past that initial burst of natural fear, the rewards are huge. That’s why you don’t see a lot of people doing amazing things like triple axels. Its scary. It hurts. And its not worth it to most people. Using a teacher can be comforting. It can help you excel faster if you have the humility and the smarts to ask for help. Sometimes, there is no teacher. You just have to keep going and figure it out on your own. Muddle through. You may show up more bruised and broken at the end, but you made it. All on your own. And you should take pride in something like that.



There is a famous quote from Theodore Roosevelt:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”


Basically, this says that haters gonna hate. It is way better to be the person getting busy and doing the things than being a cowardly critic on the sidelines.



Figuring things out on your own is admirable. It takes courage. Most people learn better when they do it themselves- when their ‘face is marred by dust and sweat and blood’. That being said, stubborn people always do it themselves. Doing it yourself is lonely. It is arrogant. Sometimes it is just plain dumb and unnecessary. Why would you make a painful learning experience intentionally more painful when you don’t need to?



Asking for help makes relationships stronger and makes others feel needed. It saves you time, energy and frustration. Others can help you see blind spots in your learning that you never would have discovered otherwise. On the downside, if you ask for help with everything, you may be viewed as a leech, as a weak person. Teachers will not come to your aid when you really need it.


Both of these techniques are part of learning in the arena of life. I’m still not very good at choosing the right technique. Knowing when to ask for help and when to do it on your own is an excellent skill to hone in life. Knowing how to do it gracefully is a rarity.



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