Life by trial and error.
It seems like there are some people who know what they’re doing. I’m not one of those people. There seems to be people who get fully and properly trained, then act confidently within their level of training. Not me either. I’m not sure why this is. Perhaps there’s something in me that doesn’t train well. Maybe there just aren’t enough people willing to pass on their knowledge to others. I’m not really sure, but I think it’s probably a little bit of both. Whatever it is, I find that I live life by trial and error.
It seems like there are always lots of people willing to tell me things I just don’t care about, and no one willing to train me in what I really want to know. I think the reason is that most people don’t know what their doing. Most people are winging it themselves so it’s difficult to contemplate passing on wisdom they’re not sure they really have. I totally understand this, it’s how I feel most of the time. People ask me to teach them things, which I would be happy to do, as long as they don’t mind learning how to do things maybe the wrong way. Technique is where I’m lacking. Generally speaking I can get the job done, but my process has been learned by trail and error, so it may or may not be the “right” way to do things.
Part of the problem of learning through trial and error rather than proper instruction is that, by nature and it’s very name, this process involves quite a
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bit of error. No one likes to be wrong, fewer people like to be wrong in front of others, especially when others feel they have the right to give commentary on your error.
One of my biggest frustrations is when people tell you what you’re doing wrong without telling you how to do it right! I’ve often described the feeling as someone “teaching” someone else to swim by throwing them in water where they can’t touch the ground – then critiquing the drowning person’s form. I’m just trying to keep my head above the water, and you have the audacity to tell me I’m not doing it right! Throw me a life preserver and give me some pointers in the shallow end, then we can talk about strokes and technique. Good teaching gives information and practice first, then correction if necessary.
Discipleship is a popular buzz word in christian circles these days, and for good reason: it’s important and lacking. I’ve seen this problem be two sided, there are few people willing to submit to being held accountable and mentored, but for those few it’s even harder to find people willing to fill that role.
In response to this, I want to learn how to be a good learner and teacher, mostly because I think it’s hard to be one without the other. There are so many wonderfully wise and experienced people that I want to learn from; how did you get there, what were your struggles, what are some practical steps I can take to get where you are? And I want to learn how to pass that on to others. In every area of our life we can either learn or teach – there are a lot of people going through life who by sheer necessity learn by trial and error – and experience a lot of unnecessary conflict and pain. You and I are the answer.