I had two conversations yesterday that carried a common thread. While I was the common denominator in both, the principle outlined came from my riding coach and a new business associate, not from me. I couldn’t help but notice the coincidence and I am compelled to share it with you this morning. When you understand this principle, you will save yourself a lot of wasted time and energy.
The basic principle is this: you can only move from the known to the unknown. When you get stuck or get off track, you typically have to go back a step to find the flat spot in understanding that is preventing you form moving forward, find a way to fill it in and then try again.
I’ve experienced this in conversations as well as in the development of my skills as a rider and my horse’s ability to perform as a riding horse. When you’re speaking with someone and something is said that you don’t understand – be it a word, a concept or a reference – that disconnect becomes an obstacle to the smooth flow of conversation. You might continue on, but part of your mind will be stuck and likely bumping into the wall of misunderstanding until it is either resolved or you forget about it altogether.
When training a horse, you find that difficulties in a particular gait, say the canter, are often the result of improper preparation of the horse by the rider (e.g. a poor transition from trot to canter stemming from a lack of rhythm, balance, etc. in the trot). To correct the canter you may have to go back to the fundamentals to determine the missing element in the foundation.
Some develop the habit of disregarding the disconnect and pushing through, but such an approach inevitably leads to failure when the demands are increased and the pressure intensifies. Others take the opposite approach and shut down when they get stuck. From that point forward, learning and growth cease in relation to that point.
Take note when you get stuck or are off track. Don’t dwell on it or obsess about it, just relax, wait for a moment to see if understanding comes as a result of the bigger picture in which the element is set and if it doesn’t, go back to the point of deviation and reset the foundation.
You cannot move from the unknown to the known. You can only move from the known to the unknown. It’s a simple principle that, properly applied, will make you much more effective in living.