I’ve got a 6 year old boy. He just loves skateboarding. If it were up to him we’d be at the skatepark all day EVERY day. In 12 months he’s gone from teetering around on the skateboard to being able to proficiently drop into and ride 10ft high half pipes. Every time I take him I stare in awe, gazing at the progression he’s made since the time before.
It’s odd though because it hurts him. He’s had bruises over every part of his body. He sweats profusely with the effort he puts in. He’s been thrown around like a t-shirt in the tumble drier. Cuts. Everywhere. Concussion. Blood, sweat and tears week in week out. And all in the pursuit of learning to ride a skateboard.
Looking from the outside it would seem madness that a 6 year old (or anyone else) would want to continue down this route of ‘self abuse’. But he picks himself up, dusts himself down and diligently continues to pursue his passion. Testing the boundaries of what he’s capable of, watching the more experienced skateboarders, talking to them, trying things out that he couldn’t possibly master first time. Going again and again with deliberate practice.
And why do I mention this? Because the art of learning is never straightforward. It can never be easy. It is often painful (physically and mentally). But it is our purpose.
And why does my 6 year old go at it again and again despite the ordeal? How is he able to pursue HIS purpose? Because he hasn’t been taught to be afraid of his mistakes. Because he inherently knows that mistakes are the fuel for learning. And because he’s been provided with a safe environment (physically and mentally) to make those mistakes.
We are all born with the need to learn. To try things out, make mistakes, to inspect those mistakes and try again. This is our purpose. Never forget it.
So the next time you get chastised for making a mistake, the next time a week goes by where you haven’t learnt anything, defend YOUR purpose. Because it’s why you are here and it’s your human right to make mistakes in the pursuit of it.