I became a Postgraduate 13 years ago when I agreed to help my son make a movie, a feature-length independent film. I didn’t know the first thing about making a movie. Neither did he, but I assumed we could figure it out. At that point, I had owned my own marketing services business for 17 years, and had worked in the marketing services field for more than 25 years. I was comfortably settled into a career that had challenged and rewarded me, but in which I had also gotten more than a little stale and even burnt out. Jumping into that movie project with my son woke me up. It was like somebody had plugged me into some fantastic battery, electrifying my brain and eventually allowing me to run on just a few hours sleep every night during a frantic 12 day shoot.
The fact that your kids almost always take you places you never expected to go is a separate subject, but finding myself sitting in a scruffy little playhouse in Hollywood attending a weekend crash course in “Directing A Feature Film,” followed a few weeks later by another weekend course in “Managing a 35MM Film Shoot” was definitely new territory for me. And it was wonderful. It had been so long since I had engaged my mind in learning something entirely new, something substantial and challenging and focused on a goal. It was like rediscovering a younger version of myself, energized and expanding into new worlds.
You probably know what I mean. You’ve had at least a taste of it. Probably by accident you’ve stumbled into a situation where you found yourself learning something completely new and surprisingly fascinating. And the process was as exciting as the product — discovering that your mind was still capable of simply absorbing and applying big gulps of information, of encountering and overcoming problems, of finally reaching a point of genuine mastery.
Change always involves learning, and learning changes you. It changes the way you see the world and how you see yourself in the world. In a way, it reveals you – the talents and capabilities that were latent and hidden. And it doesn’t have to be huge. You don’t have to go back to college and get a new degree (but you could) or apprentice yourself to a carpenter to learn to build houses (but, why not?). You might just decide to learn a second language or master some aspect of cooking or learn to write a screenplay. The important thing is simply the act of learning – the effort applied to achieve a level of mastery. You’re a different person on the other side. It changes the rest of your life.
When you launch yourself into some new learning experience, or if you’ve already begun or completed one, I’d love to hear about it. With your permission, I’ll share it here at The Rest of Your Life. Who knows how many people your example might inspire?