In twenty years from now, tell me what your life will look like? What experiences will you have had that make for a great story to tell your family or friends? Will you have sampled a much of life as you possibly could, or would you have only taken only what was offered a little at a time? Will you limit your reach because you feel you must master each new experience perfectly?
Exploration is really the essence of the human spirit. ~Frank Borman
Why am I asking you these questions? Well, it’s come to my attention that there are a lot of beautiful people on this planet who are limiting their human experience because they are anchored to the outcome rather than the process. I call this expert-minded thinking and it’s the surest way to live a life that is only half full.
Acquiring expertise is something that we are driven to obtain. Whether it’s becoming a world-class pianist, a Nobel Prize-winning scientist, a bestselling author, or an aviation expert, seeking out a single passion and pursuing it endlessly is something that is instilled in our psyches from the moment we take our first breathe. To be the best. To be an expert is a sign of success. It can also make for a very limiting way of life if we are always trying to strive for perfection.
Don’t get me wrong.
To be great at something isn’t bad. Without expert-minded thinking horses may still be our primary form of transportation. We would still be battling diseases like polio. We’d probably still have cords on our phones – YIKES! Can you imagine?
Expertise benefits science and technology, but it doesn’t engage the human spirit. Focusing our energy on perfecting everything we touch keeps us from exploring and keeps us from experiencing a life rich in experience. It keeps us close-minded and sheltered from the magic and wonder of a fulfilling existence on this planet. We become stale instead of vibrant and alive.
I started writing this piece a couple of weeks ago because I wanted to reach out to anyone who feels like they can’t do something because they are afraid they’ll fail. I wanted to find a gentle way to remind these lovely individuals that failure is inevitable because we can’t be great at everything. That success doesn’t need to be measured in a universal way. What is universal is that we often surprise ourselves. That when we’re willing to shuffle or leap outside our comfort zones great things can happen.
There are a few things that I think I excel at. I’m a great storyteller. I have a knack for finding that little nugget of story and exploring it further. I’m good at figuring out how to convey someone’s deepest emotions through words and helping my readers look at an issue from all sides. I find stories that others don’t see. That’s my talent. That’s my expertise.
Then, there are some things I am not good at. I keep doing them anyway, though. I’m NOT doing these things with the mindset that practice makes perfect. I do them to challenge myself and expose my mind and body to something new.
Over the past 15 years, I have taken scuba diving lessons, learned to ballroom dance, tried my hand at stand-up paddleboarding, taken a painting class, participated in a cooking school class, learned to refinish furniture, made a few lovely and not-so-lovely quilts, knitted some gifts that I am quite embarrassed about, ran a few half-marathons, took a pottery class, started practicing yoga, and even learned to groom a cat (don’t ask ). My point? None of these things that I tried have I perfected. I haven’t won any awards or gained any new talents. Some of them I didn’t even finish. Like, for instance, scuba diving. I took all the required classes and participated in a brutal swim test, but never completed the open water test. So, why even bother? Well, in response I say, why does matter?
Why does everything in our lives that we try have to be completed with exactness? If we’re only focused on the outcome, how can we enjoy the process?
Sampling life is why we are on this planet. Well, maybe there’s another reason, but I’m not privy to that information and must guess. If you have that top-secret information, I’d be more than willing to pay you for the answer. Of course, I’m cheap so your cut wouldn’t be much. Yet, I digress. . .
Trying new things brings us closer to our true selves. It gives us the opportunity to meet people who can enrich our lives with their stories and souls. A life that is sampled is not a life half-led. It’s fulfilling and open. Expert-minded thinking, always striving to perfect everything we touch, keeps us hidden. We miss out on new adventures. We’ll be boring old women and men who have nothing to tell our grandchildren or great-grandchildren because we got stuck in a routine and only allowed experiences into our lives that we knew we could master.
How limiting is that?
Take That First Step. . .
My lovely fellow human beings, I challenge you this week to try something new. Don’t worry about the outcome. Don’t worry about becoming an expert. Sure. You may land on something that you really love and want to explore further. That’s awesome! Do it.
You may also try things that are cool in the moment, but you’re not necessarily drawn to for life. That’s awesome, too.
My wish for you is to sample as much of life as you can because you’re only here for a short while. By expanding your boundaries you’re contributing to the collective human experience. So, go forth and participate in the world. I think you’ll be surprised at what you find!
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Piper Punches is an author of fiction and truth, tackling topics on social justice, mindful living, creativity, and the writing life. She is the Amazon bestselling author of The Waiting Room, and the short story, Missing Girl. Her newest book, 60 Days (Missing Girl Series — Book 1) is currently available at Amazon. For a limited time, readers can sign up to get a free copy of Missing Girl here.