I'm driving my daughter to take the ACT (college prep) exam today. Ugh. I hate those things: the stress, the waiting for the results, the exhaustion when complete. And that's just me the parent. I bet it will be hard for her, too! Ha!
The funny thing is, I think I have declared at least twice in recent memory that I had taken my last standardized test. I'm sure that after the GRE exam for graduate school I thought I was done. I was certain that after taking the Professional Engineer exam I would never take another one of those killer tests. So guess what I did this week? I signed up for another! I will be taking the Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) for new construction exam in June.
Ugh. I don't know the first thing about it. I looked at the study guide and I don't recognize any of the topics or sample questions. So why put myself through this? Do I like the pain? Do I not have enough to do already? Am I a glutton for punishment? No, no, and...maybe!
I am trying to push myself. Like so many of you, I think it is important to keep learning new skills, to demonstrate to myself that I have not finished learning, that I can still stretch, that there is still room for improvement (and in my case...a lot of room!). I am not the smartest guy in the room by any measure but...this is a challenge. And I like challenges!
I read a story several years ago about a 90 year old woman who was returning from a lifetime of missionary work. She had labored for decades in remote parts of countries that most of us would never include on our fantasy vacation list and was finally coming home. And at 90+ she certainly was ready. So in the interview they asked her what she intended to do now that she was finally home. Would she ride out her last years in a retirement community, enjoying a well earned break? Not this one! I was floored when I read that she wanted to learn to play the piano, pick up a new language, write a book, and visit some other unheard of countries! She was still growing. Wow!
That is what a lifelong commitment to learning and growing is all about. None of us can ever say we have reached our full potential. And none of us should ever believe that we are no longer going to challenge ourselves to improve, to stretch, to be the best we can be.
So, I'm taking another test. I'm going to study up, learn a new skill, and become a LEED Accredited Professional! I don't know how...but I will!
How about you? What new challenge have you taken on? How are you improving -- personally, professionally, spiritually? We all need the growth that comes from stretching. That's Leader Business.