I’m no good at computers…

…is the 21st Century evolution of, “I’m no good at maths.”

It is a declaration that one can’t learn and so is a prime example of an Enemy of Learning.

It is said in response to a fear the person with you is judging you for not having the same knowledge they have. An Assessment that can’t be grounded.

It holds you back from asking for assistance.

The phrase holds you back for no good reason. Let it go.

An illustration of the truth

There is an interesting passage in Rhythm of War by Brandon Sanderson where the protagonist, Kaladin Stormblessed has an altercation with his father Lirin. It shows what can happen when we hold an opinion as truth.

An invasion has occurred and Lirin, a surgeon, urges his son to stay and help people. Kaladin, who was trained as a surgeon by his father in his youth, is caught between his father’s wishes and his natural desires to protect people using force.

“You’re telling me to be a good slave and do what I’m told.” [said Kaladin]

“I’m telling you to think!” his father snapped. “I’m telling you that if you want to change the world, you have to stop being part of the problem!” Lirin calmed himself with obvious difficulty, making fists and breathing in deeply. “Son, think about what all those years spent fighting did to you. How they broke you.”

Sanderson, Brandon. Rhythm of War (STORMLIGHT ARCHIVE) (pp. 741-742). Orion. Kindle Edition.

At this point in the book it’s clear that Kaladin has been suffering from PTSD.

In a way, Kaladin could understand what his father said. “Your words make sense up here,” Kaladin said, tapping his head. “But not down here.” He slapped his breast.

“That’s always been your problem, son. Letting your heart override your head.”

“My head can’t be trusted sometimes,” Kaladin said. “Can you blame me? Besides, isn’t the entire reason we became surgeons because of the heart? Because we care?”

“We need both heart and mind,” Lirin said. “The heart might provide the purpose, but the head provides the method, the path. Passion is nothing without a plan. Wanting something doesn’t make it happen.

Sanderson, Brandon. Rhythm of War (STORMLIGHT ARCHIVE) (p. 742). Orion. Kindle Edition.

Soon after this conversation two of the enemy forces enter the surgery. They are looking for people of a certain type, Radiants, who have been incapacitated by their attack. They are initially unaware that Kaladin is a Radiant who did not suffer incapacitation and who is also the one Radiant they are to be on the lookout for.

So many reasons to stay where he was. But one reason to move.

They were going to take Teft.

Kaladin pulled open the door and stepped into the hallway, feeling the inevitable shift of a boulder perched on the top of a slope. Just. Beginning. To tip.

Sanderson, Brandon. Rhythm of War (STORMLIGHT ARCHIVE) (p. 746). Orion. Kindle Edition.

Kaladin’s true nature takes over and he kills in order to prevent his friend Teft from being taken. Needless to say, Lirin is not impressed.

Nearby, Lirin gave up, lowering his head and slumping in place as he knelt before the body. It had stopped moving, finally.

“We’ll need to hide,” Kaladin said to his father. “I’ll fetch Mother.” He surveyed his bloody clothing. “Perhaps you should do that, actually.”

“How dare you!” Lirin whispered, his voice hoarse. Kaladin hesitated, shocked. “How dare you kill in this place!” Lirin shouted, turning on Kaladin, angerspren pooling at his feet. “My sanctuary. The place where we heal! What is wrong with you?” Sanderson, Brandon. Rhythm of War (STORMLIGHT ARCHIVE) (p. 751). Orion. Kindle Edition.

The sequence was a difficult one to read. It’s a classic story telling structure to have two people from different worlds at odds. Both believe they are right. And both are right. But because they believe so strongly they are right, they are unable to understand the other person.

Lirin is right that surgeons have a mandate to save people and not kill them. Kaladin, as a warrior, and immensely capable of saving people, also believes he is justified in his actions. Yet, both approach the problem from the position that they hold the truth and when you hold the absolute truth, listening is not an option. You’re bound to coerce/convince others of the truth.

How often in your life do you take a position where you are treating an opinion you hold as the truth? Can you fee the desire to force others to your will? How helpful has that been?

Knowledge or the tractor?

A group of farmers was asked what they would do if they woke up in the morning to find their $100,000 tractor had been stolen from the shed. They indicated a rush of activity around police, insurance and other such matters. If all else failed they would seek to buy a new tractor. As soon as possible.

When asked has a senior manager with an equivalent salary recently left the organization – the group said yes. What did they do? Aside form lunch or a brief exit interview the answer was nothing.

We can easily fall into the trap of prizing the tangible resources at our disposal and ignoring the less tangible. It’s easy to replace a tractor so we know what to do – and we jump to it. It is not easy to replace an individual. Sometimes it’s just too hard to do anything – no matter what we’ve lost.