Stick Shift Perfectionist- Life Lesson 53Dawn Kotzer
In theory, we master a new skill almost immediately, right? In reality… as beginners — we suck. If we’re a perfectionist, we often
don’t won’t even dare to try.
I love driving my little black car. Let me rephrase that.
These days I love driving my little black standard transmission car.
It didn’t start out that way.
While my inner bold wanted to drive a standard, my Stick Shift Perfectionist balked—big time.
I did not love the process of learning how to drive a standard.
Stall – Jerk – Stop. Start again.
Rev – Grind – Stall. Stop. Groan.
Trash talk myself and slump my head onto the steering wheel.
Did I mention I learned to drive a standard in one of these? When I took on the job of cultivator girl on our farm this was my rig.
Pushing in the clutch was a struggle.
I didn’t realize the issue but someone else did. My feet couldn’t easily reach the floor. Someone rigged up a riser. That worked better.
Still, failure felt certain. I felt foolish.
I muttered, grumbled and cajoled myself into remembering how I’d been shown to drive this beast.
My inner perfectionist burned with a wretchedly insistent embarrassment.
‘Practicing’ in the middle of a very flat, very open, very large summerfallow field didn’t help either.
Tilling the surface to reveal the deep dark loamy soil meant my every swerve, glitch, over-steer and under-turn was revealed in the weedy carpet of green. Furrows wormed themselves into view.
Not a straight edge of black in sight.
Yep, 160 acres and not a tree around. There was nowhere to hide.
I felt totally exposed and was completely out of my element.
I wasn’t anywhere close to being in an easy going, I’m new to this so I’ll cut myself some slack- Beginner’s Mind groove.
I was sick about what I thought our seasoned, competent farm neighbours would think as they drove past on the adjacent grid road.
“OH. MY GOD. That car is SLOWING down, not speeding by. NOOOOO, don’t stop.
Don’t look. Don’t look at my crooked rows and too many missed weed patches. Don’t look at the cultivator girl. I know, I know… Raised on the farm, this should come easy to me. What I was really thinking was ‘don’t judge me’.”
Now I can laugh about my trials and tizzies.
Back then… before I’d discovered the gift of a Beginners Mind? — it wasn’t pretty.
Eventually I sent my perfection seeking Inner Critic out to the Back 40, parked the Versatile pointing the right direction and called it close enough.
Yesterday, after washing the car, I deftly parked the car on our sunny lane. I remembered the frustration felt during my early stick shift days and realized how much I’d learned about tackling intimidating new skills.
Here’s 5 Tips to shift you into Beginner’s Mind when learning any new skill:
- Start Small–
Something smaller than a tractor will do. A car, truck, riding lawn mower…
- Lighten UP. Give yourself permission to suck, to make a mess–
In retrospect that 160 acre open field was thee perfect place to practice
- Turn on your Curiosity: don’t be afraid to ask questions–
When starting out we don’t know what we don’t know so let curiosity guide your awareness.
- Ask for help sooner than later–
I’d still be wrangling with the floor clutch if someone hadn’t seen me struggling.
- Chunk things down and tackle them one at a time:
You don’t have to learn everything at once. Lean in. Build skills slowly as you become confident with one action after another.
- Start Small–
Life Lesson 53:
When I give my inner greenhorn a chance to shift into Beginner’s Mind I get to be chill…to lean into the learning curve with more excitement than fear; to feel a little more confidence in my ability to take it slow and learn as I go. Viva la Stick Shift Perfectionist No-More.
About the Author:
Hi. I’m Dawn Kotzer. I help you, creative beings and wholehearted entrepreneurs, bring ambitions to life without sandblasting your soul.
Artist, life-biz and creativity coach, I’ve left the world of organic farming and traded the Versatile beast in for a snappy orange riding lawn mower.