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Finding your voice, part II
For most people, progress results from hard work, attempts and failures. Only a tiny group is gifted enough to bypass this learning phase. It took me a long time to figure this out. I belong to a group of people who needs time and repetition to learn anything. Before I discovered that about myself, I thought you were either born with the gift or not. And in my mind, for many things, I didn't.
People say time brings wisdom, and I can attest this is true. In my life, I had to go through a very long learning period. I first had to learn who I was, my strengths and my limits. All the good things came through breakthroughs between many failures. Things started to get easier once I identified that hard work was the only path to knowledge for me. A significant weight was lifted from my shoulders at the same time.
Since then, I have been able to focus on what I needed to do rather than give up. I have been able to concentrate on enjoying the early phases of learning. And to get out of my mind any pressure to be the best.
I studied music theory enough to understand it is just another language. I'm attempting to learn piano; just a few chords are good enough for me. And I re-started drawing and painting, among many other things.
The key is to know yourself, be ready to fail, and accept this as a gift.
But this discovery and new enthusiasm for doing things brought another problem.
A Scanner Mind
Are you extremely curious? Are you constantly trying to learn new things? But only stick long enough to acquire some knowledge? Do you jump between many different areas of interest?
If you replied yes, you might have a "Scanner Mind."
Before I learned about having a "scanner mind," I was afraid of being a failure, never pursuing something to its full potential. Felt like a quitter, not good enough. You get the picture.
Some people called us lazy for not finishing what we started. But we are not lazy at all. On the contrary, we dedicate much time and effort to learning many things. And we are good at that.
When I discovered this, suddenly, it all made sense. A feeling of relief filled my body.
I'll try to explain what a Scanner Mind does, but I suggest you read the book "Refuse To Choose!" by Barbara Sher.
First, we scanners have many excellent traits. A sense of wonder about the world, we are good at learning new things. We are innovative, curious, and open to change. This broad knowledge across many fields lets us bring new perspectives to everything we work with. Don't let anyone tell you that, as a generalist, we don't know anything.
When having a scanner mind turns into a problem
As a person with a Scanner Mind, the interest in many topics has the side effect of starting multiple simultaneous projects until we feel so overwhelmed that we stop working on them.
I'm trying to advance or complete all of these. Of course, the following is not the complete list of items:
Practice drums daily
Practice bass at least three times a week
Write more articles for Substack
Complete my "Paris in B&W" photo book
Complete courses in painting, Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator
Work more on my photography
Learn how to develop film
Create a plan to set up a local business around photography, prints
Update my four websites
These self-imposed goals result in stress, a sense of failure, and an overall negative mindset. What can I do about it? For most things, I do nothing, and for some, I push through to complete them. One day, I took action with the help of "Refuse To Choose!" by Barbara Sher.
Following the book suggestion, I started listing all the things I wanted to do and the ones halfway completed. Then I attacked the more urgent ones (for example, finishing the photos from a wedding commission).
Finishing the "must complete" tasks took the pressure off my back. The remaining goals were for me, for my pleasure. Things I want to do, learn and build. I also told myself that I could take my time to do everything. I now use a journal where I write whatever idea comes to mind. I write and draw diagrams of what exactly I want to do. Writing on paper allows me to take the idea out of my mind. Most of these ideas will stay on paper, and I will only work on a few.
What have we learned today?
Don't give up. Not until you take time to think about yourself. Look for what really matters to you and the barriers to achieving that. And don't give up until after you try.
Start a journal of all your interests. For each of them, write in detail what you want to achieve. Use diagrams, lists, drawings, and anything that helps you capture your ideas. Putting everything on paper, no matter how simple and small an idea is, will help you take the pressure off your back.
Finally, embrace failure.
I will finish with a quote from the book "Refuse To Choose!" by Barbara Sher:
"You have no obligation to finish every single thing you start."
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