Archive for the ‘Learning’ Category

Nutrition While Traveling and Open to Experiences

February 8, 2023

Yesterday’s thoughts concerned traveling and trying to stay fit and healthy. I talked about maintaining a proper attitude for fitness. It’s easy to say, “I don’t feel like it today.” If you are a person of routine, like me, travel kicks you out of routine. You must fight to quickly adapt a new routine.

Last night I thought about nutrition and how it affects health in the moment and attitude.

I thought I copped with Monday’s travel disruptions well. I had started the day with some scrambled eggs and a bit of bacon at the United Club. But the flight was delayed. Nobody’s fault. Stuff happens.

I’d packed (thank you to my wife) a little bag of mixed nuts. Those came in handy. The flight was to have landed about 11 and I would be at the conference in time for a sandwich. Instead, the flight landed at 2 pm. I knew there was a Wendy’s at the end of the concourse. I grabbed a quick single with cheese for lunch (no fries or soda). 

No time for anything but a bit of water after I arrived at the venue and went directly to work. 

I saw an old friend between press conference and reception who bought a whisky (thanks, Mike).The reception afterwards featured enough food for a light dinner. It was, however, in the exhibit area. I took a small plate and took a spoonful of two types of pasta. Plus one more whisky (no e). Had so many impromptu meetings that I barely touched the pasta. Walked the 1.5 miles to my hotel.

Felt terrible and slept fitfully.

Yesterday, I was much more careful. Oats in the morning, lunch of mostly a variety of salads, two beef tacos (meant as an hors d’oeuvres before the conference big dinner) for dinner. 

Felt fantastic. 

Another cool point about traveling. Stopped at the outdoor bar at my hotel to get out the laptop and finish a few things including my Spanish lesson on Duolingo. Two guys were having a decent political discussion. One guy a business owner. The other guy looked like a Harley owner.  He turned out to be fascinating. He was a musician. He was also a technician. Much like me in my early years, was a tinkerer.  Suggested an Australian band to me in a genre I’d have never touched (metal/blues/rock/folk mashup). I checked it out when I got to my room. Pretty cool.

Keep your body and mind in shape and be open to experiences. You can meet the most fascinating people and learn new things. Keeps life interesting.

The Beginner’s Mind

January 9, 2023

Jesus said, “Unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”

All the spiritual traditions of which I’m aware contain a form of the concept of the beginner’s mind.

The quote from Jesus popped up in my current reading. I paused to contemplate.

“In the beginner’s mind, there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few.”

I remembered a joke from a boy’s magazine from my early adolescent period. Two farmers were talking one day. One says, “My son went off to university and got a BS and then an MS and now he is getting a Ph.D.” The other replied, “What’s that?” “Well,” said the first farmer, “I guess it’s like this. You know what BS is. MS is More of the Same. And PhD is Piled Higher and Deeper.”

Now, I don’t want to disparage all people who have earned a PhD (Doctor of Philosophy) degree. I have friends who earned that degree and are brilliant and useful in their fields. I’m currently listening to the podcasts of Dr. Andrew Huberman who has a PhD in neuroscience yet retains insatiable curiosity about many things.

Yet, I’ve known countless people with advanced degrees without the sense to come in from the rain. Their heads got so choked with what they know that there is no room for learning.

There are many whose heads are so full of what they know that there is no room for learning, no curiosity, they know it all–and they have no degrees. It works in many ways.

Like a child, like a beginner, our minds need to be open and curious ready to take in new experiences and new understanding. I loved taking walks with my grandson when he was a toddler. He would stop and explore many things–bugs, worms, leaves, whatever was there. I hoped he would never lose that attitude toward life.

Wisdom Establishes Tone For the New Year

December 30, 2022

Annual reminder to self (and anyone who listens):

Begin the New Year on the right foot. Not with “resolutions” that will never be kept. Not even for a week. Immerse yourself in Wisdom for 31 days for orientation. There are 31 days in January. The book of Proverbs from the Old Testament has 31 chapters. One chapter a day for a month.

Beginning in Proverbs 8 we begin to see a portrait of Lady Wisdom as God’s agent on our behalf. She takes her stand at the crossroads, near the city gates, crying out (8:1–3). The point is that wisdom is widely available knowledge. God cares for us and wants to keep us out of trouble. So virtue is not a matter of arcane knowledge or obscure teaching. It is accessible to everyone.

From the Life With God Bible, Richard J. Foster, Dallas Willard, et. al.

A few additional thoughts to set the tone for the year—and perhaps a reminder every day:

7 Things Mindful People Do

  • Practice being curious
  • Forgive themselves
  • Hold their emotions lightly
  • Practice compassion
  • Make peace with imperfection
  • Embrace vulnerability
  • Understand all things come and go

Knowledge or Curiosity

December 15, 2022

You are bringing a new person into your company or organization or committee. Two candidates present themselves. One strives to impress you with the extent of their knowledge. The other obviously has knowledge of the field, but they impress you with the quality of questions they ask and their overall history of curiosity and ability to learn new things.

Which do you bring on?

If you chose the second, you chose wisely.

Research dating back to the mid-1980s revealed that in the long run Liberal Arts majors with ability and desire to learn new things who were also insatiably curious outperformed MBA graduates.

Speaking from my experience, I had a technical/engineering/math background but decided to end my university time in as much of a classical Liberal Arts program as my university allowed. That combination has served me (and my employers) well.

I think it works in spiritual formation work, too. Some people seem to know it all. But, they also seem stuck. Back when I was a teacher, I’d learn what I needed to teach or lead the session. I also learned from my class. I loved the people who were striving to learn. They’s ask the most off-the-wall questions. They’d make me think. I turn, I’d try to make them think. That generates so much energy the entire room feeds from it.

Even in (or especially in) spiritual growth and development including Bible study never stop asking and never stop learning. We’ll never know it all.

Story of a Life

November 25, 2022

I’ve seen this poem before, but hat tip to Tim Ferriss for including it in today’s Five Bullet Friday newsletter. Sometimes I’m an even slower learner!

Autobiography in Five Short Chapters

Chapter One
I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in.
I am lost… I am helpless.
It isn’t my fault.
It takes forever to find a way out.

Chapter Two
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don’t see it.
I fall in again.
I can’t believe I am in the same place.
But, it isn’t my fault.
It still takes me a long time to get out.

Chapter Three
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there.
I still fall in…It’s a habit…but,
my eyes are open.
I know where I am.
It is 
my fault.
I get out immediately.

Chapter Four
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.

Chapter Five
I walk down another street.

— Portia NelsonThere’s a Hole in My Sidewalk: The Romance of Self-Discovery

A Step At A Time

October 25, 2022

My wife and her sisters persuaded me to try an aqua fit class during our vacation at a resort last week. I can swim but seldom get in the pool. Meaning: I’m not that good.

After a lot of “weight” work with 8 oz. dumbbells that in the water simulated several pounds, the instructor got out three or four-foot lengths of foam tubing called noodles. At one point she instructed us to put them between our legs as if we were sitting astride them. Then she said pretend you’re pedaling a bicycle and head to the deep end of the pool. Then she told us to do a breast stroke motion with our arms. I fell off the noodle, got tangled up in the darn things, and was in water over my head. It took a few seconds to get my bearing.

A few minutes later I experimented on my own in shallower water and discovered the “trick”.

Let’s back up a second. When I had a new person come to my Yoga class, I’d ask about experience. Some had more than I did. Great. Just explain the progression of poses and keep an eye on them just in case.

If they said this was their first experience, I would give instructions to the class for moving to the next pose while standing or kneeling with the new person to help them find the correct adjustment for the pose. (without touching them, I never touched a student)

I’m thinking that aqua instructor, nice person though she was, knowing I was a newbie, should have given me a bit more instruction and watched more carefully.

Then I thought about other things.

Do we convince someone to “accept Jesus in their heart” and then just send them to drift into the deep end alone?

Do we tell someone to read their Bible daily without teaching and feedback on how to read ancient spiritual writing?

Perhaps you may have memories of being adrift and lost. Maybe someone teaching live or from a book helped you find your balance sending you off into freedom.

Getting Down From Mount Stupid

May 25, 2021

“I took a semester course in that subject at university,” the recent graduate told me in an interview, “so, I am an expert in that field.”

I think I replied to the effect that he had barely scratched the surface of knowledge.

It is called the Dunning-Kruger Effect. The peak of the curve is often called Mount Stupid.

We have all been there.

There was a Bible study. One man who had begun studying the Bible within the past year exclaimed, “I don’t understand why anyone can argue this. Here it is plainly in black and white.”

I mentioned that first, he was reading English. Jesus and Paul didn’t speak English, since it had not been invented yet. “It’s complicated,” I said. Maybe I realized then that I had arrived. I knew I didn’t know everything. Now, I could begin to understand. And perhaps guide someone else off the peak of “Mount Stupid.”

Practice Kindness

December 30, 2020

Few of us are perfectly kind to others, to animals (pets), to even ourselves.

I imagine we put kindness to the test for the past 10 months living in close proximity to part of family and away from other parts. Living more online than ever before, we discover that it is easier to be unkind online than in person.

One of the terminology things I like about Yoga is the word Practice. Each time we come to the mat, we are practicing our poses. A little improvement each time.

Looking at the past year, how often did we practice kindness. Looking ahead to the new year, perhaps we see where we could use more practice.

I watched on YouTube a violin master class led by a virtuoso violinist. He conducted a youth orchestra. A young man, most likely late teens, played a concerto. As the maestro led the violinist through different parts following the performance teaching phrasing and sensitivity, he mentioned, “You have probably practiced this about a thousand times and played it a hundred times with your teacher before performing here.”

We admire the performance and don’t consider the work that goes into it.

Just so with kindness. We must practice a thousand times to get close to being right. And even then, we still have more to learn. Remember, the proper phrase is not “practice makes perfect”, but “perfect practice makes perfect.”

Practice kindness.

You Are To Blame

November 11, 2020

Andy Stanley likes to bring up this thought nugget, “Do you know who was present at every bad decision you ever made? You. You were present at every one.”

We learned something from Jeremiah yesterday that our heart is deceitful above all things.

Advertisers and marketers are geniuses at using this knowledge. They know how easy it is to present something in such a way that we believe it. And then we act.

And then later we wonder why.

Why did we buy that? Why did we call her back? Why did we go there? Why did we get suckered into believing her or him?

Wouldn’t it be great if we had a pause button? Before we decide to trust her; before we decide to go there; before we decide to send that note on social media that will make us look like a fool; before we buy that–we pause, breathe deeply, tell our deceitful heart to back off.

We are also present at our good decisions.

Andy never says that. But it’s true.

Wisdom comes from gradually recognizing situations and hitting the pause button and then making the good decision.

Learn Through Failure

March 4, 2019

How many times have you failed at something? A business closed? A ministry didn’t work? A partnership dissolved?

When asked about experiences, do you talk only about the good times?

Sometimes we learn best from our failures.

We developed the wrong business model for the times and product. (I did that.)

We picked the wrong partners. (Guilty.)

We tried leading a service opportunity that fell flat. (Been there.)

Bragging of our successes teaches no one–including ourselves.

Self-evaluating where we’ve fallen short is a sure path toward growth.