Well, It’s been over three weeks of Skateboarding every day and I’m happy to report that I’m definitely getting better. I can slow down, (which is pretty important) I can turn in figure 8’s and I’m starting to really enjoy cruising around the streets with the kids. In fact, today I’m grateful for the rain as my left calf is killing and it really needs a few days off!
There are a few things that I think are really cool about skateboarding and I wanted to share them with you because they are pretty applicable to business in general.
1. You must spend time in the learning zone. I’ve accepted that I’m going to fall off, I’m going to get it wrong, I certainly look silly when friends see me practicing and I’m comfortable that when I’m in the learning zone I can’t expect myself to skate like a pro! If you think of the way we spend our time, we can split it into two zones, the learning zone and the performance zone. Most people after two or three years in a new profession spend almost no time in the learning zone and all their time expecting a high-level performance from themselves. (Think back to the last time you openly expected yourself to fail at work and we’re OK with it.)
Admittedly, when I went to get laser surgery on my eyes I’m not going to say to the surgeon, “Hey, I’m happy for you to try something new and I’m fine with you making a mistake or two.” No, I want someone who’s invested their time in the learning zone so when they are performing eye surgery (particularly on my eyes) they do so flawlessly! But it’s great to be here, the learning zone enables us to challenge ourselves without failure spelling disaster.
2. If you don’t practice and put the effort in you’re never going to improve. Carol Dweck is a researcher in the Mindset space and has identified two mindsets that people fall into. A fixed mindset – where you see your talents and abilities as fixed and unchangeable and any failures are to be avoided at all costs. And a Growth mindset – Where learning is desired and effort is seen as an essential part of the journey. I was clearly no good at Skateboarding three weeks ago, it would be very easy to say “I’m a 37 year old Mum, I’m just never going to be any good on a skateboard!” and if we’re honest with ourselves, how often do we use that excuse for not trying something new?
Developing a growth mindset is about recognising that with effort you can always improve. In fact an fMRI scan of a 92 year old woman’s brain found that after learning to play the piano her brain had grown new neural pathways, disproving that old saying “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” If you put your mind to becoming better at anything (and lets face it, we can learn everything from YouTube these days) you can.
3. Set a positive example and you might just inspire someone else along the way. Comparing myself to others didn’t help – I can easily look at others and feel useless, but I try to find inspiration and think about the time and energy they’ve invested in getting to where they are and what I can learn from them.
I don’t want my kids to see me as this awesome Mum that Skates. I want them to see me as someone who’s totally crap at something but has a go anyway, that sticks to it even when it’s hard and is human enough to get frustrated and upset but keeps practicing anyway.
4. Santosha is a cool concept from yoga and translates to mean contentment within the moment. You can’t rush progress, particularly on a skateboard, or you’ll end up with a busted something or other. Most of us want to be ahead of where we are, we expect A LOT of ourselves professionally and personally and this creates much of our dissatisfaction in our lives. Santosha is our ability to become content in the moment, as we strive towards becoming better.
If you try to touch your toes you will find a point at which you experience discomfort and perhaps a little pain, push beyond this point and you will likely injure yourself. But, if you stop well before this point, you’ll never improve your flexibility. Santosha is the balance between challenging ourselves and accepting our limitations and when we walk this fine line well the journey of life becomes so much better!
So, am I going to become a Pro- Skateboarder? Ummmm, That’s a definite NO! But have I learned to skate well enough that it’s fun? Absolutely! So I hope next time your hear that voice in your head that says “I can’t” or “I’m too old” you’ll think back to that random Mum on a skate board, give yourself a quick pep talk and just have a go. Life’s just too short to stand and watch on the sidelines!