Archive for November, 2010

PostHeaderIcon New Tricks

There’s a saying “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” that in my opinion is another myth. In some cases, I think it gives people something to hide behind. They quote that phrase as if it’s scientifically proven in order to justify that they don’t want to try something new.

Every time I hear it I can’t help but wonder if the person is afraid of failure, resisting an unwanted change or just plain lazy. That may seem harsh but if you’re honest, you can probably think of a time when something new has come up and you’ve felt one of those motives propel you toward saying you wouldn’t be able to do such and such a new task or deal with a new or different situation.

I get it. I should say, I understand that most people don’t like change however in truth, I don’t get it. Whilst change may sometimes cause uncertainty I think people get too bogged down in that and forget to make their own path. When it feels like you have no control over the situation or other people are dictating the outcomes, why not make a move of your own and seize the opportunity that changes usually represent.

Recently, I met someone who was being made redundant at a time when jobs are not easily found. Although it came as a shock, this person told me it was going to be a good thing as he’d wanted to do something else for a long time but now realised he’d been playing it safe and become resigned that he’d probably never take the risk. Due to circumstance out of his control, he’d now be able to take that step and see it as moving in the right direction rather than risking what he already had.

Of course not everyone is equipped emotionally or financially to take that view but we could all start with the small things. If you really want to do something, how about taking some classes to help get you there. If you’re unhappy in your job, take action and start looking around rather than complaining whilst still turning up every day. If there’s a new task or situation thrown at you that you don’t understand so you fear failing, why not embrace it and take on all possible training and assistance to ensure your success – avoiding it will surely help you fail.

So many times I’ve wanted to do something and in the end I’ve realised that I need to make it happen as waiting brings no result. I’ve learned knew skills, taken jobs that were unfamiliar, even moved to new locations where I knew no-one. I’ve found every time that although it may take a while, I’ve succeeded in the end. Sometimes I’ve even surprised myself when things have turned out better than I’d hoped.

As for old dogs – it’s never too late. My father waited to retire until he was 69 and I’m sure it was partly because he had no idea what he’d do if he wasn’t working. He’s taken on a totally new lifestyle with open arms realising, if he waited around for something to do it would never come.

After years of saying he’d like to take up painting, he finally decided early this year to attend classes. Less than a year has passed and he’s just had his first exhibition and sold his first painting – something he wasn’t expecting but a wonderful bonus to being brave enough to ‘give it a go.’  

So, as we head rapidly toward another year, maybe it’s time to ask yourself what you’ve done this year. Have you achieved a goal, tried something new, made a friend you weren’t expecting or have you done the same old things and now wonder where another year has gone?

Old dogs (and young ones) can learn new tricks – I have a million ideas to get through, what’s yours going to be?

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