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Persistently Stubborn

Creative Commons LicensePhoto credit: juandesant

To get through the hardest journey we need take only one step at a time, but we must keep on stepping.

— Chinese Proverb

Today is the one year anniversary of my “new job.”  I’m amazed at how much this experience has changed me.

I have developed and delivered training for about 15 years.  Although one can always learn, most projects I’ve been involved with don’t really stretch me.  Yes, I have to learn about the topic I’m working on, but because I’m very good at learning new businesses and the software systems that run that specific business, it’s usually a joyful and fun experience.  Learning new businesses is something I love to do and that I do well.  Hence, no problem!

I walked into this job sure that I’d be able to handle it easily.  I’d never met a system that I couldn’t figure out.  I’d always been accepted and trusted quickly.

This time things were different.

Clueless For a Time

Let me make one thing perfectly clear, I am not an engineer.  Most of my professional life I’ve worked with engineering types, but me, I’m not built that way.  Usually, this isn’t a problem because over the years, I’ve figured out how to communicate with engineers – sort of.

In the past, much of the time in I spent in developing materials was spent using the pre-release version of the software, discussing it with the designers and analysts, and documenting how it worked.

Then, I would hold classes which taught people how to use the software.  Usually, it was a single system within a single department of the business.  Looking back now, I realize just how easy that was.

Today, I must build an understanding of how a group of systems interact by reading the requirements documents that were written months ago.  Then, I sift through change requests and other supplementary documentation to clarify my understanding.  Sometimes, at the very beginning, it feels like reading a foreign language – I know just enough words to sort of make out a faint outline, but I’m actually clueless about how it all comes together.

The thing that I have figured out is this… If I just keep at it, eventually (and that’s a key point), it all comes clear.  The thing is that it requires persistence, and just plain stubbornness, to get to that eventuality.  I will spend whole days working on a diagram of the new process that never seems to come together.  When I come in the next day, it is rare that I don’t look at the diagram and immediately see a huge mistake or gaping hole.

So, I start over.

Eventually, You Get There

What I’ve learned is that this is all part of the process.  I have to sit with the ideas.  I have to keep coming back to them, time after time, until it all clicks.

It wouldn’t be so bad, except that I go from being competent to being incompetent, just by taking on an assignment.  Luckily, everyone struggles with the same challenges, so I’m not being left behind, I just need to keep putting one step in front of the other.

The people who’ve been working on this project all struggle with the same challenges.  Figure it out.  Realize what you thought you knew is all wrong or slightly wrong or just off base.  Start over again.

The thing is, the most important part of the process is persistence.  Believe that eventually it’ll all come clear and keep going.

It may sound self-evident to you, but it’s taken me a year to learn this little lesson – and I keep re-learning it.  And I’ve figured out that it’s true throughout life.  Most of the time, the ingredient that we most need to put into our efforts is long-term, strong, belief that we will get there.

The journey is often twisty, but the destination is out there.  Whether it’s a job, or improving health or learning to meditate – consistent effort combined with belief will get you there – eventually.

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