"Let's call all the fun we've had living, living; Let's call all mistakes we've made learning, learning..." - "Living and Learning," Mel Tillis (1971)
(Note: Today's weblog title & the reference lyrics are in honor of my late grandfather, who used to sing & play little ditties like this one, so long ago.)In the business world, perhaps in the last decade...maybe a little longer back than that, there was a focus on transforming businesses into "learning organizations." Training & education managers, formerly the red-headed stepchild forced to share a bedroom with human resources, suddenly became a C-level (or sea level, if you wish to look at it that way, especially if you're at the water's edge...) entity all its own. It was one of the important disciplines in business, especially if you believed what you read in Peter Senge's The Fifth Discipline.
Ah, those were the good old days. Now, in the age of shrinking (shrunken?) budgets, training & education, as well as the CLO (Chief Learning Officer) have been forced to come back home & share the room with manpower & personnel...human resources. But, it doesn't make learning any less important a part of living. John Dewey once said: 'training is not preparation for life. Training is life...' or something to that extent (shame on me, an education guy, for not knowing the exact quote).
That's the most fun about coaching & training, I think. In order to be as efficient with my training as I possibly can...even more important as I become older & less efficient in recovering from races and workouts as I used to be...I have to read, research, re-read, & re-research what coaches, scientists, & even athletes have found to be the most effective means of training, fortifying, supplementing, recovering, & so on. I like it, it fits well with my personality. It provides me the opportunity to try something a little bit different, or adapt to what I'm already doing, before I try it on any of my athletes.
Doing this involves what I guess the Zen masters might call beginners' mind. You have to wipe out any preconception about a particular topic in order to listen clearly, lest your Charlie Brown filter be engaged. We all have that filter; the one that turns plain, simple language into waah, waah, waah-waah, waah...waah in less than 3.2 seconds, leaving us stupider than before. Turning on that filter not only makes you more stupid, but makes your life much less enriched.I've kicked myself in the butt on many an occasion for not listening more closely to friends who read an article in Runners' World, Triathlete, Geezerjock, & wanted to share their insights with me. Usually that kick in the butt came after remembering, 'hey, didn't so-and-so tell you about a particular piece of equipment, or a particular exercise that would have kept you from crashing & burning in that event?' Then I have to go back, reclaim beginners' mind, & listen to what I should have listened to before. Well, C.S. Lewis once wrote, 'pain is the megaphone of God,' so maybe it was the Almighty's way of telling me...'(WHACK!) Stoopid...what were you thinking!? Wait, were you thinking!?'
So, there I was, standing in my local running emporium, sweating my behind off, listening to one of my advisors talk to a marathon training group about hydration & nutrition. Normally, I would have shrugged off the vast majority of the information; turned on the Charlie Brown filter. But this time, well, you can blame it on Nikki...she handed me an outline of the lecture. What else could I do but stand at the back of the store and listen in. 'Who knows, dude...' I said to myself, 'you might even learn something.'Since the marathon has been my weakest running event, & the one which will probably determine how well or poorly I do in November, I figured it couldn't hurt. No worse than doing the walk of shame for ten kilometers to keep from blowing up my achilles, which I did in 2007.
It was no surprise to hear the obvious: 'we are in two states...training & preparing for training.' But it never really clicked until then. I learned a good possible root cause for my weight plateau & a few other nutrition specifics. Gee. What a concept.
So, by allowing myself to go to beginners' mind I was able to learn a few things which could make the difference between a bad day & a good day, or a good day & a very good day...both now & in the near future.
"And we'll go on through life together living and learning..."