Learning about learning
I’ve been thinking about learning a lot lately. Seems I am drawn to the challenge like moth to a flame. Today I’m remembering a chilly day in January, 1994. A hotel meeting room in metro Detroit. My Neuromuscular Therapy certification exam, administered by Douglas Nelson.
I had studied and studied. Repeated all but one of the seminars, watched and re-watched the review videos, and had spent every available minute of the previous three months studying anatomy, physiology, and protocols. Despite that, there was one certain protocol I had completely forgotten. And guess what? It was on the test!
Doug was very encouraging. “You know this. I know you do. Just think about it for a minute.”
But I didn’t. I had to throw in the towel and admit that it completely escaped me.
I passed the test anyway (whew!) and the very next day went back to work for a full day of client sessions. My last client that day … guess what? Had that exact problem. What were the chances? She needed the strategy that I’d anchored in, through completely missing it on the test, just the day before. In her case, it was a sports-related injury. I was so thankful for the previous day’s misstep. That mistake is what ultimately allowed me to help that young woman get back to playing soccer after work (which she loved!) pain-free.
Fast forward to now
So now here we are nearly 24 years later. Guess what happened today? Someone came in with the same problem. Different onset, but the symptoms and more importantly the effect in her life (pain, frustration, feeling held back from what she wanted to do, fear that it would never resolve) were essentially the same. The potential benefits for her are essentially the same as well. Something that she really wants to do is back on the menu. Big sigh of relief. Life keeps moving in the direction she wants it to.
For myself, once again, I feel thankful for those moments in which I am challenged to learn something that doesn’t come easily. That I don’t master perfectly on the first try (and believe me, I have a lot of experience in this arena).
Over the years, I have learned something about the process of learning. Taking the extra time and effort to master the fine points, the precision, is so worth it. In the case of Neuromuscular Therapy, I joined the St. John Seminars teaching staff, on which I served (all the while deepening my own knowledge base) for 11 years. It was a commitment and an investment.
There is a very special place in my heart and mind for those people, Doug and many others, who have supported and/or otherwise drawn forth the extra effort and tenacity I need in order to learn a subject well.
I could have given today’s client a nice relaxation massage. She would have walked out with a more relaxed version of the same problem she came in with. That was neither her agenda nor mine.