Learning Curves

learning curve

I had lunch with a good friend of mine yesterday. I told her about some of the struggles I faced at work. I have a regular monthly report I do in tandem with another worker. We thought we’d done it right, filled in all the blanks and gotten it nailed. Nope. The fact that nobody had looked at them over the last 2 months didn’t mean we’d covered it. Several items screamed out for a redo. It frustrated me that it took so long to surface. I mentioned the training that we hadn’t quite gotten from the outgoing person.

Over our chicken teriyaki, she posed an interesting question.

“Whatever happened to learning curves?” she asked. “It used to be that you learned as you went along. You weren’t expected to get it all the first time. Seems like nobody is allowed them anymore.”

As we moved on in the conversation, I considered what she said. Where, indeed, did those go? I remember starting out at IDC, 10-page job description in hand, making mistakes right and left. Nothing heinous, at least not for awhile, but still. See the curve above.  Lived it. Learning. Growing. Pacing myself as I amped up for the rigors of a deadline-driven job and the responsibility of being a dragon lady on documents and sometimes a surrogate mom.

Some groups have permission to learn on the job. Babies. Toddlers. Children. They all get a pass. They have to learn to walk, to talk, to sit up straight, potty train. It’s a lot. Oh, and puppies. We have to train them, of course. Same with kids, I guess. Ideally.

Come to think of it, I don’t allow myself learning curves very often. I have a hard time moving forward when I make a mistake at a new task. However, as my job continues to morph before my eyes and life keeps apace, I am learning to be kind to myself and consequently others. It takes grace and forgiveness. It takes practice. Yet growth comes through failing.

I think of how the kids interact with each other. They’re learning to be kind, despite sibling squabbles. They’re learning to interact with kindness and patience. They understand the importance of an apology when they biffed. They haven’t mastered it straight out of the gate.

And neither have I. Sometimes, I wish life had a function where a sign would pop up in front of you. Like the ones that say “dangerous curves ahead.” We can learn from our mistakes. Besides, curves in the road make the journey more interesting. Who wants a stick-straight road, all the way to death? Though steep at times, learning curves are worth it. God’s grace covers it.


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