Do you remember those learner signs you used to stick to your parents’ vehicle as a new driver?
Well, sometimes I wish I could stick one of those signs to my forehead.
Yes, I’d like to expand on the driving metaphor I used last week to ponder my own status as a learner in life.
This past summer, I have been helping my younger cousin practice her driving as she prepares to re-take the driver’s test. Reminding her of all the rules of the road, I began to realize how easy it is to break them. I became more cognizant of my own driving mistakes, as I tried to help her avoid making the same ones. At some point, I stopped talking about driving and started talking about life.
Society, you see, puts us through many tests on our individual paths to success.
Our minds put us through even more.
When we fail to meet the standards set by our culture, we feel the shame of our big Ls–we equate being a learner with being a loser.
And yet, when you think about it, the very definition of a learner is someone who stands to gain something–whether that be knowledge or experience.
So why are we so ashamed of our individual Ls?
Could it be that we feel the disdain of others?
Driving with my cousin, I am amazed at how impatient some drivers are.
I mean, don’t they see the red sign?
How could they miss that bold letter?
Don’t they remember what it was like when they were learning to drive?
After contemplating these questions, I have come to the conclusion that maybe we are too anxious to remove our Ls. Maybe, in our hurry to hide our status as learners, we forget the fact that we stand to gain something by learning–something we can only do if we remember that no one is perfect, including the drivers who are focused on what they have to lose as they follow the person with the “L” in front of them.
To be honest, I think we are ashamed of our Ls because they remind us of our limitations.
We don’t like that they remind us that we will never know everything.
But we need to remember that they also remind us that we have the capacity to know more.
Humility is a powerful thing and there is nothing more humble than a person with a Learner’s License who is willing to use it.
From now on, I am going to wear my figurative “L” proudly. I am going to proclaim to the world that I have a license to learn and will use it to take me new places, even if I travel at a slow pace and make a few mistakes along the way.
Just think of how wonderful it would be if we began to see the letter “L” as an opportunity to Learn–as an opportunity to gain something, whether that be Loving the learner in front of us or Leading by example.
To be sure, leading and loving are two of the most powerful educational tools. The next time someone tries your patience, think of how these Ls can help you pass yet another Learner’s test.
(And if all else fails, you can always Laugh about it!)