[#93 Lesson] Room for Improvement

This life lesson relates to my previous blog post #93 Take an IQ Test.

“Once you stop learning, you start dying”
    – Albert Einstein

Renowned as one of the great minds of the 20th century, Albert Einstein has taught this world a lot. His words were simple, but this quote has echoed with me for several years.

I have done my best to adopt this mentality and my life is fueled by constantly learning new things. I’d say trying a new sport or activity is my favourite way to learn. It’s the right blend of a mental workload, exercise and usually involves a shot of adrenaline in there every now and then.

This is why skydiving has grabbed a hold of me so strongly. When people ask me what it’s like at a drop zone, I describe it as a “learning environment”. Another great quote I like is from the skydiving instructor at my local drop zone.

“When we jump out of a plane, the end result is death, until we do something about it”
    – Uncle Geoff Mundy

Photo credit to @lovetoskydive

Understanding what that “something” is changes all the time and that’s what we are learning. The simple answer is to deploy your main chute and fly it back to earth safely. What if you have a malfunction? Do you cutaway and go to your reserve? There are dozens of factors that come into making this decision and we have seconds to make it.

Geoff is one of the best I have seen at making sure that people keep learning to stay safe. He is always discussing incidents or mishaps, in NZ and afar, and breaking them down so that we can learn how to deal with the same issue if we encounter it in the future. This is what I mean by a “learning environment”.

Sports and activities are not the only way that I like to learn though. I also enjoy book learning. If I find the subject interesting enough, I can read a whole textbook on it (which I have done before). Textbooks and educational material are great, but don’t ask me to read a novel. I need to read to learn and can’t read for pleasure.

This probably explains my lackluster results with the verbal comprehension part of my IQ test. I read more now, but instead of novels, I prefer true stories or biographies. These forms of books teach me something, which is what I need to stay engaged.

Aside from sports and book learning, the most important type of learning for me is through self-reflection. I have always found the art of identifying my own weaknesses an interesting one. It humbles me, but at the same time it empowers me. The process shows me my weaknesses and then I begin to come up with solutions. In due course, these solutions lead to a change in who I am, for the better.

The IQ test showed me that there was room for improvement in my verbal comprehension, but what it really taught me was that I can’t just keep doing tests all my life to find out what I need to improve. Improvement is a constant process and is perpetuated by self-reflection. This has become a part of my life and I feel like I am a better person each year because of it.

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