Learning Curves and Roller Coasters
“That’s just part of the learning curve.” Maybe you have heard this phrase before? As someone who likes to learn and try new things, I am very familiar with “the learning curve”. It explains why the first time I tried to drive a stick-shift car it felt more like riding in a bumper car than a Subaru. However, by the time I was ready to drive that little, gray car off to college I was barely giving the clutch and gears a second thought. The learning curve also explains reteaching my thumbs to navigate a new cell phone, the soreness I feel with any new exercise routine, or the countless hours I spend when I start using a new computer program. While we learn something new, it requires more time and we make more mistakes, but pretty soon we find ourselves on a smooth, straight course.
There are, however, times in my life that the learning curve has felt more like a roller coaster! The past few months, co-founding a brand-new organization, has definitely been a roller coaster of learning. There have been the slow, meticulous, uphill climbs like navigating the IRS application process. There have been fast-paced twists like being chosen to appear on the local morning news and figuring out how to cram all the most important information about our organization into a one-and-a-half minute interview. And there have been screaming-with-my hands-in-the-air downhill races like leading 60 teachers through a high-energy, joy-filled session reminding them how important and impactful they are in the lives of their students.
When my kids were younger, each one of them was afraid to go on the roller coasters at Six Flags. Ben and I would bribe, negotiate, and even trick them until they would finally get on the ride. The ride would start with tears, somewhere in the middle we would catch them smiling, and without exception we would be exiting the ride just to hear them say, “Let’s do it again!” If you find yourself looking at a big opportunity that is way out of your comfort zone because there is so much you need to learn, just remind yourself that some learning curves are steeper or loopier or faster, but it is all those twists and turns that make the ride so exhilarating. Find a friend, strap in tight, and enjoy the ride!