Learning, Legitimacy and The Culture of Impatience

A story about expanding what is possible and transforming a culturally-mandated bias.

Recently, I decided to adopt an online software system as a tool for my business.

Before committing, however, I watched my VA demo the software. She breezed through the software’s process, showing me how incredibly user-friendly the system is.

Seriously, in just minutes she click-click-clicked through the different steps in the functionality of the system and I thought: Piece. of. Cake.

Then I attempted to duplicate her results on my own.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHA

Within ten minutes I was frustrated, doubting my decision and almost-but-not-quite foaming at the mouth.

Why?

Not because the software failed to deliver. Not because of anything anyone else said or did.

Nope, this was all on me.

And – my old friend, Culture. More specifically, the prevailing Culture of the country in which I live, the Culture that shaped me and most of the people I know:

The Culture of Impatience.

The Culture that tells us:

Learning is something you (have to) go through to get to what really matters. What really matters is producing desired outcomes …preferably as quickly as possible.

This Culture goes on to tell us: Learning is a necessary evil and a sign that you are Not There Yet – with “There” translating to “Expert.” And if you are Less Than Expert, you are not valued as much as those who are Experts.

Now, you might argue experts ARE more valuable than non-experts because of what they can contribute or produce.

I don’t argue the contribution or productivity.

What I take exception to is how the Cultural bias toward “expert” devalues anyone or anything that is not currently producing expert outcomes. Rapidly. Consistently.

The Culture of Impatience wants instant experts.

This works for oatmeal, but people? Not so much.

One thing that does not produce (instant) expert outcomes? A process. Such as a learning process. Or someone who is IN a learning process.

But wait. There’s more.

That “expert” status? Translates to “legitimacy.”**

Faster expertise equals more legitimacy.

And the criteria on which Culture tells us to base legitimacy?

(drumroll here, please….)

Results.

The Culture of Impatience tells us to value the RESULTS of learning more than the PROCESS of learning.

What this means is we end up devaluing learning. (Which makes no sense when you look at the cost of higher education in the U.S.)

The Magic Bullet, Quick Fix, Want-it-NOW thinking we’ve internalized as a result of this cultural conditioning? Perpetuates criticism of self (and others) when we can’t open a new book or online tutorial and get immediately up to speed.

Welcome to Worship at the Altar of Results

Where – I might add – the tithes are brutal.

Not the least of these harsh tithes is diminished capacity for critical thinking. The cumulative stress of Always Having To Measure Up takes a serious toll.

Higher functions such as critical thinking and creative resourcefulness, to say nothing of the ability to connect and relate with others ?

Nosedive.

The part of your brain essential for your ability to create and achieve is no longer available to support your success.

You get what I’m saying here, right? Valuing results at the expense of learning and learners delegitimizes both AND sets up a a downward spiral.

The alternative?

  1. Learn what it means to inhabit present moment instead of:
    Being out in the future, doggedly pursuing results, OR
    Anticipating the difficulty in attaining the result, OR
    Criticizing yourself, your team, the process, Life in General….when you don’t instantly achieve the desired result.
  2. Ask yourself where the fire is.
    What’s so urgent, in THIS moment about your being IMMEDIATELY THERE in the desired outcome?
  3. Take time to step back and consider these questions:
    What do you believe will change or become possibly ONLY when you ARRIVE THERE?
    What is ONLY possible because you are not (yet) living in the desired outcome?

Somewhere in this reflection process, there is a doorway to a new perspective, waiting to be discovered OR recognized.

On the other side of that door?

  • Deep appreciation for the potential power of the learning process itself, and for the learner, in undertaking the journey of learning. (And I’m not just talking lip-service here.)
  • A restoration of legitimacy – and worth! – for the time and energy learning something new can take. Notice what this perspective does for self-legitimization. To say nothing of personal sovereignty. (More on sovereignty elsewhere.)

Remember that software system I mentioned earlier and my frustration at not attaining Immediate Results?

Funny thing.

When I made the shift from gnashing my teeth over the lack of instant expertise (and results) and allowed myself to get curious about how the software worked, something “clicked” for me. Within twenty minutes I moved from “grrrrrr” to “wow” as I produced result after result after result. Easily. Elegantly.

When I say “Learning rocks,” I don’t just mean it is really cool. Which it is.

It also means this:

When you show up fully in the process of learning, you can learn something unexpected, something that rocks the way you know yourself and the world around you.

And, oh, my. That’s a Culture Shift, right there, in the moment. An immediate, unexpected RESULT that makes so many other results so much more accessible.


**Special thanks and acknowledgment to Lissa Boles (www.thesoulmapper.com) for introducing me to this distinction of legitimacy as drawn from her work, during soul-deep, heart-filling discussions in her Calling Translation Incubator.

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