Tuesday, October 25, 2011

rolling bands of experience

So this idea has been tumbling around in my head for a few weeks, popping up in enough various contexts to warrant a blog post trying to flesh it out.

The basic idea is that for a given phase of life, there are basic set of skills that make the experience more something (productive, fun, safe, effective, etc).  What I'm thinking is that a person may accumulate that skill set for a given "band of experience", but that band eventually passes and it is then time to prep/learn how to manage the next band.

Think about high school: if you are/were at all like I was, the first few years were pretty awkward.  From the end of 8th grade until maybe the start of my junior year, I was trying to figure it out.  My grades were fine, my social circle was ok, but there was plenty of frustration as I searched for the levers that made the machinery of those years work.  The surprise that came next, though, was that the discovery and relative mastery of the high school levers did not apply in college.  High school was largely it's own isolated band of experience.

I've just come through another band of experience in the form of 0 - 6 months of being a dad.  I've had to learn practical things like swaddling and diapering; I've had to develop new ways of thinking; I've had to learn how to function on little sleep...obviously, some of these skills may translate to other bands of experience, but what is most likely to happen is that in a few months I will start to lose those skills.  When will I need to swaddle a baby again any time soon?

At the onset of some BOEs, I was surprised to find that I was pretty well prepared.  My childhood in a loving, supportive family that valued education and literacy set me up well for elementary school; in the same way, my parents' emphasis on hard work, integrity, and personal accountability prepared me well for the post-college entry to the professional work-space - I was "good" at being a productive worker bee from the beginning.

But there have been other BOE phases for which I was caught woefully flat-footed.  I'm sure there's value in the struggle to figure out the basics of a particular band of experience, but it can be amusing and frustrating to look back in a "if I had known then what I know now" kind of way...

So to bring it back around: I'm interested in this in 2 main ways.  One: is there a better way to manage the approach to a new BOE; and Two: is there a better way to manage the transition out of a BOE (should we let those "old" skills fall into disuse?)

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