Always Learning

  • MEGAN VALNES
  • 10/27/21

Always Learning

October 27, 2021

In business and in life, we are always learning. There is always more to be achieved and higher rungs to climb on whatever ladder you happen to find yourself on. Today, Stacey and I met with an old friend of ours and local artist, Robin Miller. Robin recently had her art opening here at our space in Santa Monica with fabulous success. Not only did she have an excellent turn-out for her event, she also sold every piece of art she hung! 

Robin wasn’t always a professional artist, nor has she ever been represented by a gallery or art dealer, yet her show was our most successful to date. Stacey and I were holding these art events before the pandemic and Robin’s was our first post-pandemic. We had no idea how wildly rewarding her show would be; not only did she sell art, but Stacey and I made some incredibly important connections. 

As Robin, Stacey, and I sat down and debriefed about the event, Robin shared about her journey as a professional artist. She explained how she had attained mastery in her two previous professions: ski-instructor and art teacher at Harvard Westlake, and how after fifteen years in each respective industry, she felt she had acquired all she needed to know in order to move on. Robin finally made the leap into full-time artist in 2017. During the time between her career change and first art show, the pandemic hit, which Robin took as an opportunity to delve into structured work-hours and learning new techniques in painting and artistic styles. Robin said, and I am paraphrasing, “No matter what our profession is, there is always more to know. We are always learning and we will never know all there is to know about anything. If we’re good at what we do, there is always something new to learn.”

These words hit me different! I have written about this before in other blogs and, in fact, “always learning” is a phrase coined by one of my greatest mentors, Sandra Dodd, and something I strive to live by. However, the way Robin phrased it allowed me to see it from a different perspective, from the angle of our careers and professions. I guess I had always perceived the ‘always learning’ tip as part of our homeschooling style,  a way to stay curious about the world around us. I had not yet applied the philosophy to my profession!

Now, as I write about it, I see how the infusion of ambition to become the best we can be in any given situation is vital to sustaining interest. And vice-versa! This is something I must have known before and pondered many times, but for whatever reason, it resonated on a new level with me yesterday. Instead of seeing it through the lens of motherhood, I saw it through the lens of Realtor and writer.

Whatever our profession is, to become a master of it, we must continue to learn. A sensei in a Kung Fu studio continues to practice and develop their technique long after they achieve black-belt or sensei status. Like Robin said, we are never done learning. 

I think much of this has to do with whether or not we are happy and satisfied with what it is we do, day in and day out. Many people are stuck in jobs or professions that no longer resonate or never did to begin with. If your days of working are miserable and completely unsatisfying, maybe it’s time to sit down and really think about your priorities. Yes, money is always important, especially when there is more than your own mouth to feed, however, happiness and personal satisfaction is also essential in a meaningful life.

What is it that makes you tick? What lights you up from the inside out? When you think about all the things that interest you, which things stand out as the ones you’d love to learn more about? These are great jumping off points into a life that holds purpose and intention. Maybe you can’t turn your interests into a career just yet, but it will be gratifying to take time learning and exploring the things you love. 

Life feels more meaningful when we can connect with something everyday, even if it’s for a few minutes, that carries us along the road of self discovery and development. Sometimes I only get three minutes of writing in before the kids wake up, but that three minutes feeds me and keeps me nourished until the next day when I can get my next bit of writing in. Just knowing I worked a small amount toward my goal is so pleasing.

Think about Robin--she explored two different careers for a total of thirty years before becoming a full-time artist, yet all the while, she loved art and continued to learn about it even though it was not her profession. She spent all that time getting ready to be ready, whether she realized it or not. And when the time came to fulfill a lifelong dream, Robin was ready.

One of the greatest gems I have acquired through age is the wisdom to realize that all of us are always getting ready to be ready in one way or another. This process is either intentional or by default, but it happens either way. I think if we can keep this nugget of information in mind as we move through life, we will see that all the dots begin to connect and the picture of our life tends to make more sense.

 When we can move through this process with intention, it becomes so much more rewarding on a deep soul level. To become intentional, we must think about what we want and take actions that move us toward that goal. When we wander from the intended path, that’s okay. Compassion for ourselves and others lends us the strength to make our way back to where we want to go. So keep learning. Stay curious. Find the things that interest you and explore them! Whether or not they have to do with your current station in life or where you want to go, don’t give up on the possibility of yourself.

As always, I’d love to hear from you and what you never tire of learning about.

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