Flashback Friday: The way to get better at something is to…

Originally posted on Learning from Sophie in August 2012

When kids are little, they think grown ups can do anything. There are things they can’t do or haven’t learned yet, and when we’re able to do things they can’t it might seem like we’re waaay more superhero like than we actually are.

It might be because we can drive a car to get somewhere exciting, or jump up so high we can touch the ceiling. The fact that we can draw a picture with incredible detail that you know exactly what it is without having to ask. You are the person that can quench their curiosity with answers to their questions and they might wow at your knowledge.

But of course children grow up, and eventually they learn that you’re just as flawed as everybody else and you’re not really a superhero after all.

My friend’s daughter looks up to me. When I realised that, I got a bit intimidated. After all, we already know that I can be a corruptive influence on the younger generation. 😉 Whenever she was in church and I was singing in the worship band (often with her Daddy who plays drums and other grown up friends she knows) she always got excited. When she was little she’d do impressions of us all – she’d sing with her eyes shut – one arm raised in the air and declare that she was me. My response was a mixture of embarrassment (oh my – is that really what I look like when I’m singing?!), hilarity and pride. She made me a card on my 26th birthday that declared I was a rockstar. And I guess to her, it maybe looked that way. I mean I got to sing on a stage with a microphone with a band. That is COOL. To her, I was an amazing singer.

But the truth is, although I can sing, I’m not anything remotely close to amazing or rockstar like!

When we were on holiday last month, my friend and her daughter (and indeed everyone else on the beach that day who might have been watching) got to see me suck at something. I love gymnastics. But I can’t do it. My friend’s daughter like me, loves dance and other sports but isn’t brilliant at them yet. She’s still learning after all. At first she didn’t try the cartwheels with me. Until she saw that I couldn’t do it, and was having fun trying anyway. So together we tried to fling our bodies into the air attempting handstands and cartwheels. Again. And Again.

We didn’t succeed.

But we had fun trying.

You know, I was never able to sing in harmony. It took me ages to learn. At first I could only do it if I was provided with the notes I needed to sing over and over. When I began to sing in church, I stuck to the melody. Eventually I got the harmony if someone made it up for me. And then with practice and trying (and some awful bum notes in the process) I began to be able to harmonise. Our leader at Powerpoint now jokes with me because I don’t know the melodies to songs anymore – I’m so used to making my own harmonise version as we learn a new song! But when I was 19 I never thought I’d be able to do that. I had to keep practising. I had to ask others from help and teaching. I had to keep trying. I had to make myself vulnerable to making mistakes in the process.

As I came away that day, I reflected on the importance of that lesson. It’s the words that now stick on my head watching footage of World Champion (and now Olympic Champion with her teammates) Jordyn Wieber trying to do a gymnastics move in her living room and falling on her first attempt when she was a little kid. Her Mum is behind the camera as she goes for another attempt…‘The best way to get something done is to try again’

You want to get better at something? Are you being held back because you failed the first time and you don’t like not being the best at something on first go?

I’m with Rita Wieber on this one.

Try Again.

It really is the best way to live. 🙂


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