The “Problem” with “Learning”

Everyone wants to be smarter, have more specialized knowledge, have a larger number of skills.

Here’s where it gets challenging…

Start by looking at a golfer that is playing for the first or second time. Yes, they get a little frustrated when the ball flies out of bounds, but typically, they just drop a new ball and take another whack at it.

They can’t have any expectations of themselves.  They don’t worry about their score.  They’re just having fun.

Now, watch a golfer who has been playing for a while–not your casual golfer that plays regularly–I’m talking about one step further. Look at the person who has started taking lessons, they’re reading golf magazine, they’ve started watching videos, they’ve started learning and overthinking things.

Watch what happens when they mis-hit the ball. They lose their damn minds.

There comes a point where you know enough to be frustrated with the things you don’t know.  It happens somewhere between when you start and when you achieve mastery.  And often times, once you’ve achieved mastery, you may wonder if you should have spent that time elsewhere.

The more I know, the more I know that I don’t know.  The longer I’m in business, the more stressed I get.

Yes, everything is moving in the right direction, but sometimes I long for the days of beginner’s ignorance.

Relative and Comparable Weight

Everyone has problems.

If we look at problems objectively and weight them against one another, it’s easy to judge another person’s problems relative to our own, or against some arbitrary measure.

  • Of course starvation is a larger problem than waiting an hour for your brunch to arrive.
  • Of course, drought or an ebola outbreak is more serious than your shitty assignment at work, or your relationship problems.

But problems aren’t actually felt objectively.

We don’t feel the weight of another person’s struggle, we only feel our own.  Burdens are subjective.

Sure, we can try to empathize.  We like to think we can imagine what it’s like to not have clean drinking water, or worry about being bombed in our sleep, or being kidnapped by a regional warlord and sold into slavery.  The truth is, most of us can’t imagine what that’s like.

We each only feel our own problems and work through our own struggles.

As a result, all problems are of a comparable weight to one another.

What seems like a minor problem to you, could feel like the weight of the world to another, and what you perceive is insurmountable, may not seem like such a big deal to someone else.  The human threshold for experiencing stress is relatively constant.

It’s important to remember this…as a marketer, a business leader, and as a human being.

The problems you are solving for someone else might be the biggest stressor in their life.  It may seem simple to you, and when compared to the bigger problems in the world, it may seem inconsequential.  But you really never know how stressful that problem is for someone else.

Everyone has problems.  If you really want to help, don’t judge it, don’t compare it, don’t measure it.  Accept it and appreciate it.


If we don’t honor our words, then our words will have no meaning.

There are two options:

  1. Think before you speak.
  2. Get your mind so clear that your words are a true reflection of what you mean at all times.

It’s easy to tell white lies, to side-step hard conversations, or to get wrapped up in something without thinking.

Bottom line: Don’t say it if you don’t mean it. It’s a waste of everyone’s time and energy.

Integrity begins with each of us.