Many years ago, I worked for some friends (Paul and John) who owned a company that installed “help buttons” in people’s homes. I know that these guys hired me because we were friends and they liked me, not because of my mechanical/technical abilities or aptitude. Early on, Paul was trying to explain the very complicated (to my mind) mechanics of a duplex jack, and I must have been either distracted or said something about not understanding, and he replied, in an exasperated tone, that I wasn’t even trying. I don’t remember his exact words but the gist of his statement was that I could understand how to install these units, that they weren’t complicated, but that I had just told myself for so long that I wasn’t any good at things like this, I had effectively blocked myself from learning.
Neither of my parents were mechanically inclined or clever at fixing things. If instructions were needed to assemble anything then we were in trouble…until my sister Anne became a teenager. Suddenly, everyone realized that she had this magical power to put things together. She could actually sit down and figure out how to assemble things!
So years later, when Paul basically called me on my playing dumb act, I called my sister, and asked if she could help me. She said that she would be willing to let me in on the secret. I was ready. Then she spoke. She said, “I read the directions.” With those words, my life changed. I began to understand directions. At first, my mind would revert to its old stories of , “I can’t do this! I’m no good at this! Directions don’t ever make sense to me! These directions aren’t even in English! They must have left parts out! This isn’t right! It probably won’t even work after I get it together!…..” But I noticed these thoughts, and tried to keep my cool (although often feelings of anger, frustration and irritation would surface at myself, the manufacturer, the person who wrote the lame directions, or anyone who might happen to walk by while I was in the middle of assembling the thing). But I didn’t give up.
Now, when a new piece of equipment comes that needs to be put together, I have faith that I will get it done. Once in a while I still have a mini-mental-breakdown and am sure that it will never work, but I’ve gotten a lot better. I hardly yell at anyone, except for Jack when he asks me a highly irritating questions like, “Is there anything I can do to help?”or “Can I bring you anything?” ….but I am getting better.
“I must be willing to give up what I am in order to become what I will be.” Albert Einstein