Wednesday, December 2, 2009

More about Building Personal Strength

One of my memories from youth was the feeling that compared to adults, I was naïve and ignorant about almost everything. I guess most kids feel this way. In my case, it motivated me to learn. I felt that my ignorance put me at a disadvantage. This translated into a keen sense that I had a lot of work to do. So I became one of those kids who sit in the front of the class and raise their hands a lot. I didn’t pass notes or shoot spitballs

On my final day of high school I delivered the valedictory address. A month later I joined the class of 1967 at the U.S. Military Academy. I found myself in more select company, and once again I felt naïve and ignorant. I took my studies seriously, but the feeling that I had a lot to learn persisted well after graduation and for another ten years, until I earned my Ph.D. in English from Duke University.

But as they say, once you leave the classroom the real learning begins....

Today it seems that at least 95% of what I know I‘ve learned since graduate school. I haven’t felt the pressure of being behind the learning curve for a long time, but it still feels as if I’m on a fast-track of learning. It still seems that there’s so much I want to learn that I may run out of time before I’m finished. I guess I’ll always feel that way.

I say all this not to brag, but to illustrate what being a “lifelong learner” means to me. Each person approaches learning differently, with a different history, different motives and different goals.

I’m also sure that a great many people—I believe most people—don’t feel the same desire to learn and evolve. They aren’t looking for more answers. So they don’t seek more strength or more wisdom. They wake up each day and deal with their lot in life with what they have. Most of the people I care about are like this. They aren’t looking for more effective ways of looking at things. They aren’t interested in changing behavior patterns. They don’t want to improve their people skills. They’re good people, but they are who they are and they’re content with that.

So this blog—and all of my writing—has a large but focused audience. It’s for folks who are open to becoming better, stronger versions of the people they are today. For about 25 years now, I’ve been passionately interested in discovering ways to help people do this. While personal trainers spend most of their time in gyms trying to help people build strong, healthy bodies, I want to help people work on mental, emotional, behavioral and spiritual strength. More precisely, I want to give people tools to grow stronger as individuals. And to give managers, instructors and coaches of every possible kind these tools, so they can help people along the path of personal self-development.


Sean said...

When you stop learning, you stop growing! And when you stop growing, you start dying. So you have to ask yourself: are you done with life, or is there more you want to do?

Meredith Bell said...

I believe that having an exciting, challenging goal is key to someone being motivated to learn more. If you're just moving through each day with no clear purpose for your life, you don't have the same drive to learn as someone who's working hard to achieve something important. In the latter case, there's always new information that needs to be learned in order to achieve the desired result - and new strengths that need to be developed.

Anonymous said...

Felicitous to find this at this moment. My thoughts tweets and blogging have been on this matter this morning.
With 75 years of discovery behind me I am presently in possession of a keen sense that I am a beginner in the two fields that interest me most: piano music of the masters and the philosophies which go the very heart of our being here.
This is actually the greatest good news I could hope for at this juncture as I am at a point where I also have the knowledge that infinite energy abounds within and that I have all that I take, finally, to "get to work" and get something done which might be of some use to others.
Thank you for your indefatigable flow of useful material out into a world which sorely needs it.