A longtime diving friend reminded me that starting a new journey can sometimes be hard! She is starting technical diving and the skills aren’t the same as sport diving. I was reminded of what it is like to go from being competent and capable and then find myself struggling – especially if there are people around me who are finding it easy! Somehow as adults we seem to have forgotten that learning can be uncomfortable and hard – that when we learn we start off not knowing. Somehow we seem to think that we should already know what it is we are there to learn, to start off being competent! And we judge ourselves harshly when we aren’t!

Even if we are able to give ourselves permission to be incompetent, to learn and struggle and make mistakes, we forget that what we are being taught is someone else’s process! It was designed to work for someone else and you are not that person – so it may not work well for you!

What do I mean ? In 2001 when I was trying to work out how to get below 120 meters, the way to do it had been defined by three men! I was expected to follow how they had done it, only I couldn’t! I wasn’t built like them! I didn’t have their physical strength – so I had to let go of the ‘how’ and get back to the problem that I was trying to solve. I was told that I had to take huge twin sets on my dive. The problem that had been solved was having enough gas to breathe. The way it was solved was by taking huge twin sets or in the case of world record holder Nuno Gomes, 4 huge cylinders manifolded together! Which required a physical strength I didn’t have. The problem could also be solved by using a smaller twin set and adding in more independant cylinders, but because the guys who had been there before me hadn’t done that, it was deemed wrong! Turns out my way also works!

We are often taught to follow an answer, rather than understand what the answer solves and so be able to use that specific ‘way’ to find our own way! When we aren’t able to master some one else’s way, we give up and judge ourselves to be useless! We forget that learning is about finding our way – it is about learning who we are, discovering our weaknesses and building on our own strengths!

So to everyone out there who may be afraid of starting something and learning, give yourself permission to struggle and ‘fail’! Learn how to enjoy the process of exploring, because that is what learning ultimately is, exploring with a huge dollop of persistence!

Don’t give up until you have found your way