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Learning for Grown-Ups 

Life Coaching

What do you remember about riding your bicycle for the first time? Chances are, while the idea may have been very exciting, there was also a little apprehension or perhaps sheer terror, too. This rite of passage surely included numerous failed attempts before and after your backside plopped into the banana seat for the first time. But eventually, with encouragement and tons of practice, most of us learned to ride quite well.

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I'm surprised how often I hear a version of: "I tried to ____ (golf, knit, sing, rock climb, change careers, play pinochle, learn Spanish, run a 10K, meditate, etc...) and I can't do it. I went to the first class and I'm not good at it."

Now that we're grown up, we seem to think we should know how to do everything with little or no training and/or practice. We are uncomfortable, and therefore often unwilling, to let ourselves be beginners. How often do we quit before giving our new student selves a fair shake?

When we quit grown-up school because our expectations of ourselves are unreasonable, how are we cheating ourselves? After all, we only need to get up one more time than we fall down. Life can be full of wonderful adventures when we give ourselves the patience, persistence and kindness we so easily give others.

Samuel Beckett, the 20th-century Irish playwright, said: "Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better." Shall we move forward with this in mind, remembering that no one sits down and simply knits a sweater? And that when we practice, one stitch at a time, we'll likely end up wearing our new handmade cardigan to keep us comfy — perhaps on a bike ride this fall.

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