No matter how successful you are, you should take time to try something new
This month, I have been looking for something new to add to my fitness routine of water aerobics, yoga, weights and occasional elliptical and salsa dancing. Since my gym offers Zumba classes, I thought I'd give it a go.
Observation #1: Zumba is not for the faint of heart. I taught water aerobics for 10 years, and I taught a hard class. Zumba kicked my cardio butt in the first five minutes.
Observation #2: There is a reason there are no Zumba for Arthritics classes. This particular class was 90% jumping and incredibly high impact, which was really tough on the joints.
Observation #3: Everyone looks stupid the first time they try something. I was a competitive ballroom dancer; I took years of belly dance and I go salsa dancing socially a few times a month. I still looked absolutely ridiculous trying to do Zumba, even though I can do camels, belly rolls and Cuban hip motion without thinking twice. The mirror-lined studio walls confirmed it.
The dark side of success
And this got me thinking about an article Allan Shoenberg posted a link to today about the dark side of America's achievement culture and how Americans can be driven to achieve without knowing why nor deriving any enjoyment from the journey to success. In it, Andrew Yang, the CEO of Venture America, describes coping with a dot com failure, his subsequent adventures at a series of failed startups and his happiness at working for an unknown company that most people wouldn't file under "success." He describes feeling constant pressure to "make something" of himself (whatever that means) and of a type of competitiveness that could be described as the work equivalent of keeping up with the Joneses.
His recommendations to fight the "success demons," loosely paraphrased, are to be honest, value yourself for things that aren't on your resume and find your passion.
Get out of your comfort zone
To that I would add: get out of your comfort zone and try something new. Do things you aren't good at. No matter how busy, focused or "successful" you are, you can afford to spend a small percentage of your time doing something that isn't in your wheelhouse, that is outside your comfort zone. Why does this matter?
To quote Heinlein, "specialization is for insects." Learning a new skill--or attempting to learn a new skill and sucking at it--forces you to see the world in a different way, outside of your on-the-path-to-success paradigm. It will remind you to value not only the talents that you have mastered but to value in others those that you haven't.
With my stiff joints, I'm probably never going to be any good at Zumba. But I'm still going to give it a few more tries, because there is value in the experience of not "succeeding." And while I self-identify strongly as a marketer, in the last few months, I've been more active on the sales side of my company business because (a) I'm needed there and (b) outside of my comfort zone is occasionally a good place to be.
What new thing have you tried lately?