Photo by John Haslam
I am battling with learning frustrations this morning, both learning something new and unlearning something old. Let me explain.
Unlearning something old. When I worked the 11-7 shift at the post office, I had to physically learn how to throw letters. You’d be given this bank of PO Boxes, open and waiting for mail. You had to be fast and absolutely accurate.
I learned exactly how much body English to put on a letter to Valley National Bank (bottom tier, third from the left) to get it to sail in. There was a satisfying chunk as I dropped an a L. L. Bean circular in the A. Martinez box (two tiers down, 2nd from the right) as opposed to the S. Martinez box which was on the top tier, right in the corner.
Of course, A. Martinez was the only one in my box responsibility that ordered from L. L. Bean, so I caught the colored logo out of the corner of my eye and off it would go zipping into 2D, 2R as automatic as hitting Reverse on my car’s shift lever.
I spent about two months learning all of this esoteric information: who got what kind of mail, how far to cock my wrist to get that letter to go right in the exact spot, the literal Gestalt of what each name looked like on the envelope. Employees at my post office branch were docked for any miscues, so I got so I could do it in my sleep. Pretty handy, since I was usually half asleep at 3AM anyway.
I remember thinking at the time, wow! I am spending all this time learning information I will never need again. And it was true. When I left the post office I never looked back. But the information has remained in locked my brain, retrievable at a moment’s notice, whenver I may need it. Not.
Learning something new. Fast forward to today when I got my brand new copy of 2007 Word. Uhuh. You know what’s coming next.
I knew the old Word, backwards and forwards. And now I am confronted with an entirely new system to learn. And it doesn’t work intuitively. And it doesn’t work like the familiar old cranky programs that I knew. To make matters worse, I am not changing by choice, but because the company I work for has decided to upgrade.
I know as I start down this process that I will also battle cognitive interference, as I hit a Control-J in 2007 and nothing happens! Old Word will tangle with new Word in my brain and I will go down in a heap of commas and curses.
Whenever I encounter a frustrating experience in my life, I usually step back and say, OK, what can I learn from this situation. It’s been a stretch for this one, but let me try.
We rarely choose to change something that is working. But sometimes that change happens anyway. Deal with it.
A lot of the information we learn will be useless. Learn to let go of it when it’s no longer needed.
Accept what we cannot change. When we recognize the frustration and where it is coming from, perhaps we can let go of it as well.
I must learn to pick my battles, and this ain’t one of ’em.
But this morning I am definitely considering sending a stiff note of protest to MicroSoft, down market or no down market!