A celebrated chef I will never be, but I do persevere with trying to be a half-way decent cook. I often wonder, though, when deciphering a new recipe in the hope of producing a culinary masterpiece, if I should just give the whole thing up. Stop trying to master the cooking skill and succumb to the Woolies Food run and resultant pocket drain.
Then, I was encouraged by Chip Conley’s article and gained two insights: learning is good for me, and so is letting go of measuring my cooking against everyone else’s.
Chip Conley, founder of Modern Elder Academy and author of Wisdom at Work, shares his experience of his journey to learn Spanish.
“My first half-dozen classes were brutal,” he confesses.
Frequently, he says, the feelings of stupidity would overwhelm him on the journey home, as he replayed the message in his mind: “You’re too old to be doing this!”
After watching a TED Talk, he came to realise that we, as adults, take ourselves far too seriously.
A corollary to this is that this can hamper our learning. “The fastest way to metabolise something new – whether it’s learning a language, trying to stand up on a surfboard, or joining a different industry – is to have fun with it,” he advises.
“And you can’t have fun when you are constantly worrying about how you are measuring up,” he adds. “This is essential 21st century wisdom as our most important midlife skill in a constantly changing world – learning how to learn again.”
Chip found he could laugh with his Spanish teacher, and they could talk about a range of subjects. Suddenly, the learning “felt less like walking on a balance beam and more like climbing on a jungle gym”, he says.
It was not a surprise then, that his Spanish improved, and he leaves us with this challenge for 2020:
What’s something new you could try with less seriousness and a lighter heart?
Here is this TED video that Chip Conley found so freeing.