3 Ways to Be What You Want to Be
“What do you want to be when you grow up?”
Parents, grandparents, and teachers were always asking us that question. As a kid, I didn’t know how to respond and still don’t; I can’t limit myself to one answer. I live my life as though I’m walking through a costume shop; there are a lot of things I want to be, so I stop, try it, and then do something different. I live with purpose but don’t plan every little thing. I leave room for God to surprise me.
Every time I begin a new chapter in my life, I have to learn something new. I didn’t know how to be a Marine when I joined the Corps. I didn’t know how to build a business the first time I tried. I don’t know how to speak Polish, but that didn’t stop me from moving here. If you’re going to chase your dreams, if you’re going to do things with your life that you’ve never done before, you’re probably going to need some training. If there is ONE THING we need to get good at, one skill to acquire to get the most out of life, it’s Learning. We need great learning skills to live our dreams.
Training for a new job, hobby, or adventure should be invigorating. It’s refreshing, like rinsing my mind and airing it out. Activating my brain cells with new stimuli makes me feel younger and more engaged with life. It is exciting to add new skillsets and knowledge, satisfying to add to the layers of experience I’ve acquired and build a broader foundation for my future. I remain ready and able to evolve.
“I learned this and can learn the next thing.”
My first experience with the power of training was provided by the Marine Corps. I surrendered to the program; committed heart and soul to learning what I did not know. Believe me when I say no one, including myself, expected skinny longhaired Taylor to excel as a Marine. Athletes and bad-asses joined the Corps, and I was neither of those things in high school. There was absolutely no evidence of bad-assery in my past. Surviving, actually thriving as a Marine was the first time I did a thing I did not know I could do. And my confidence blossomed; great training made it possible.
When my friend and I decided to build a computer company, we needed lots of training. Coming from the international oil business, we knew about discovering and recovering hydrocarbons, core analysis, downhole logging tools… high science but not computers. To follow our new dream, we had to learn how to build a sales channel in our target industry, learn how to finance a start-up, and (last but not least) learn how to build computers. All kinds of new knowledge and experience to acquire, and we were in our early 40s. Can you imagine?
We learned and were energized by it. We went to tech training, night school, and temporary jobs where we could acquire the specific skills we needed to reach our lofty goals. And we would require continuing education. We stayed hungry for knowledge and eager to apply it. It became our habit to enter every new business relationship and opportunity looking for something to learn.
An extra benefit of our enthusiastic attitude toward learning was the network we built. People who trained us, people with whom we trained, and people active in our target industry… they all took an interest in the eager students (who were older than the rest of the class). Predictably, those people were a big part of our success. Learning with enthusiasm amplified its effect.
In another chapter of my life, I followed a recurring daydream to live as a mountain man. It was a radical change that required an entirely foreign set of skills… skills not available in any tech school or academy. As a young man, I climbed mountains and chased adventure all over the world. That alpine experience was helpful but did not qualify me as a mountain man. And no one with whom I could train wanted to hear about my past. I had to listen and learn, and demonstrate what I’d learned for my new mentors to take me seriously.
Mountain men used horses and I did not; in fact, I was scared of horses when I committed to the adventure. In Texas, I was a city boy. I grew up in the suburbs and watched mountain men at the movies; that was the extent of my experience with horses. I needed a lot of training.
Mountain men knew how to use horses and mules to pack loads with canvas and ropes for long distance travel through rough terrain. To be respected by my new peers, I would have to haul my winter’s work with me as I lived in and travelled through the mountains. I needed to know how to pack.
And all kinds of seemingly ancient, certainly old-fashioned skills became important to my success. Like using a misery whip (a manual crosscut saw to fell trees and clear trails), a sluice (to clean placer gold for trade), and other hardware associated with the trade (‘traps and other truck’). They were not electives; I needed those skills, but they had faded into folklore and were difficult to acquire.
Learning to do well what I did not like to do
was part of the price of the dream.
My daydream would not be realized with bar room bonafides; braggadocio would not survive the things that I had planned. I had to practice my lessons mentally and physically, and demonstrate my learning. I was not acquiring knowledge for the sake of certification; it might mean survival to me.
I learned and was strengthened by it. I worked alongside prospectors, trappers, stockmen, and outfitters. I trained on-the-job, and repaid their investment in me with enthusiasm and good energy. My mentors taught me how to be a mountain man and I reminded them of the joy of it. My dream was realized beyond all expectations.
Of course, I wasn’t a mountain man the rest of my life. One adventure leads to another and I’m on another adventure now. And lots of times, dreams don’t come true. I’ve made good plans that didn’t work out. And that’s okay; I can live with it because I have Plan B… consider the possibilities, plan a new chapter, and start learning what I need to know to make the next dream come true.
3 Keys to Get the Most from Your Lessons:
- Inject learning with enthusiasm, especially when it’s boring or hard. The human system absorbs new information more effectively when it’s vibrating at a high frequency. Tune in eagerly to learn more.
- Be delighted to demonstrate what you learn, especially to yourself. Get on the horse and ride. Experience the joy of accomplishment. Be amazed at what you can do.
- Learn, and do as you please. Live the lives you imagine. WHAT we learn is never as important as THAT we learn… and that we keep learning and growing and living gratifying lives.