The LEGO Lesson
My eldest son, Aidan, asked me to help him build a LEGO Batmobile with him earlier this week.
I love building LEGO projects!
I played with LEGO a lot when I was a kid, and I was always very good at being able to look at a given situation and determine what pieces needed to be put in place. It's a skill that helps me when I work as a business leader or consultant, and also makes me a great guy to have around when you need some IKEA furniture put together (which is really just LEGO for adults).
I'm confident I could have assembled that set on my own in under 15 minutes.
But it took me about an hour to complete it with my son.
There's a big difference between doing something yourself and teaching someone else how to do it.
He wasn't as familiar with all the different pieces, so it took him longer to find the ones that were needed for each step. I resisted the urge to point out the ones he needed from the large pile in the center of the table, but that took some effort on my part; I'm not naturally a patient person.
He doesn't have my years of LEGO building experience, so it took him a bit longer to identify everything that had changed between each step and add each piece where it was supposed to go.
And he made a few mistakes along the way, but rather than correct him immediately, I let him discover the errors for himself and then helped him see what he needed to do differently.
This wasn't an efficient way to build a LEGO set.
But it's really the only way to teach someone how to build a LEGO set.
The delight in Aidan's eyes every time he successfully completed a step or corrected an error was worth every extra second. When we finished that Batmobile, my son was very proud of himself, and I was very proud of him. He said, "Thanks for building this with me, Daddy." I replied, "It was my pleasure." And I meant it.
We all start off as beginners.
We learn through our experiences, and we get better as we go. And when we're lucky, we run into experts along the way who are willing and able to share what they know, so that we can improve ourselves.
If in the last few weeks you've wanted to try something you've never done before, but haven't because you thought you wouldn't be good at it, let me help you: you're probably not going to be good at it. And that's okay. Because we all start off as beginners.
Go forth and build!
Or write. Or bake. Or paint. Or podcast. Or whatever it is you want to do.
Don't be afraid to try something new, and don't be afraid to fail.
It's how we learn.
PS> If you're already good at something, likely because you have years of practice, consider seeking out someone who might like to benefit from what you know. Trust me, it will almost certainly end up being a win-win.