It fascinates me, as I get older, to discover that it gets increasingly hard to get excited about learning something new. I remember back when both computers and I were much younger, I couldn’t wait to take a look at the latest beta version of just about anything. Today? Not so much.
This may be due to my brain being fuller than it was when I was younger. Or the realization that, in spite of the marketing hype, not every upgrade “changes everything.” Or the unalterable fact that even as computer technology evolves, I still need to pay the rent. It is much easier to be risk averse when you have a mortgage on the line.
Still, this got me wondering why it is hard to get motivated to learn. I think there are a number of factors:
Smile… It ain’t easy getting older.
Many, many years ago, when I was directing television for PBS at the Maryland Center for Public Broadcaster, a fellow director – Tom Barnett – made a plaintive complaint that has stuck with me all my life. “When,” Tom asked, “will I finally stop learning and start doing?”
There are days when I envy history teachers. Everything they study is dead and not likely to change in the near future. That is not the case in the technology-obsessed media world we live in today, where change is a daily fact of life.
So, how do we cope?
First, accept that as long as we are working in or around media, learning will be a life-long enterprise. I confess that I have developed a fair amount of inertia about learning something new. But, once I get started, I am fascinated by what’s out there.
Second, don’t try to master everything. Pick a few subjects that fascinate you and work to stay current. There’s no shame in wishing things were simpler. The shame is when we spend all our time wishing for times that are long past. There is lots and lots of cool new stuff out there – once we make the effort to discover it.
It would be nice if developers could slow the pace of change; if, for no other reason, than to allow the rest of us time to catch up. But competition is relentless and the first company that slows down will be the first company that can’t restart. Our industry is careening through a period of constant change, hoping to find products that will catch our fancy, yet unable to pause long enough for us to actually discover the best ways to use them.
This creates a fragile state for all of us. As users, we need to continually keep up on the latest trends in order to make wise purchase decisions. All too often, we hold off buying because we are trying to figure out where technology is “going”. (Or, worse, determine which product is “best” – which is an unanswerable question.)
Yes, developers need to create products that take advantage of the latest technology, but not move so quickly the rest of us can’t keep up. Developers need to clearly explain to their customers what they are doing before they will buy it. Change for change’s sake may create stunning press releases, but it won’t sell products.
These are difficult times for our industry. Developers need to keep making sales to stay in business and create new products. But, end-users don’t want to invest in technology unless they know they can use it for at least a few years. This creates an environment where we hold off buying because we don’t understand the technology; and, instead, cling to yesterday’s products because we understand how they work.
The solution revolves around education and learning. The more we know, the better decisions we can make. The better training resources that are available, the easier it is for us to determine whether that product makes sense for us.
It is truly hard to start learning something new. It is easy to say: “I know enough;” to coast on what we know rather than learn what we don’t. But, easier is not wise. Wisdom is recognizing that we are limited by what we know; we only grow when we are learning.
Even when it would just feel a whole lot better to pull the blankets up higher and go back to sleep. As my good friend, Bruce Nazarian, often said: “We can sleep when we are dead.”
11 Responses to Enough is Never Enough
I’m not sure history is “dead”…….seems like they keep trying to rewrite it to fit:-)!
Well said! I swear you were reading my mind. The biggest hurdle I had to overcome years ago was giving up control and just downloading and trusting it will work not knowing HOW it works.
Can I feel better about my lazy self if I keep reading Larry Jordan downloading Larry Jordan and try to hit as many Larry Jordan webinars as possible? You are my main answer to that older grumpier part of my brain that keeps complaining “you should be learning more!”.
Thanks for this again-spot-on observation Larry and for letting me say “shut up I’m trying!” to that part of my brain.
All we can do is try – some of us from the computer, others from a rocking chair.
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Larry, I’m 71, surely older than you, and you can take solace in the fact that I’m still learning my editing techniques from you. As a life long photog I switched to video to stay ahead of “the crowd” about 4 years ago and haven’t looked back. Your tutorials have been my guiding light.
So stay teaching and I’ll stay learning!
I’m having too much fun teaching to stop. Thanks for your kind words.
Larry this has really hit me below the belt. I am still working with Final Cut Express 4, and as I only work on my own video camera for making holiday shots into passable movies,and do all the things I have learnt from Tom Wolsky, and lately from you with LiveType. I find myself complaining about the fact that Apple no longer supports LiveType. I am 87 years old and even F.C.E. 4 was a big leaning curve for me. I do not really want to move on, and I feel really upset with Apple that I can no longer purchase the add-on packs for LiveType.
I realise I am a old stick-in-the-mud type of guy, but the old brain box is not too good. Money comes into it as well upgrading every thing costs a lot and in my position could not be justified.
I’m really proud of you for doing something as complex as video editing at 87. I hope I will be able to do the same at that age.
But you miss the larger point. You are happy doing what you are doing, and your clients are happy, too. (Meaning yourself and your family.) There’s no reason to reach out and learn new stuff as long as your current gear keeps working.
The trick is when it stops. At that point, you’ll face a larger learning curve getting used to the new gear and, sadly, software. You might consider stockpiling a few older machines to keep you going in the event your current gear gives out.
In the meantime, you are not practicing professionally, you are using your skills as an extended hobby. There’s less incentive to keep current except for your own curiosity. Still, there’s nothing wrong with being curious. You never know when something intriguing will pique your imagination.
Thanks Larry I do always worry that my gear might give up then I would be in a mess. For that reason I do look after it well and hope for the best. with regard to tying new things out I do find that some new soft wear requires me to up grade my computer I then find if I do my F.C.E. 4 will no longer operate and so on and on it goes. Thanks again Larry and a big thank you for the help you gave me with Live Type,as I say it is disappointing that all I have of that is what I got with my F.C.Apart from a few good back ground effect I purchased form Belights. Anyway thanks once more I will do my best with what I have.
Larry, your wisdom goes beyond media.
You really are a guru.