Never Stop Learning

The other day I was at my friends’ farm to help them start their maple syrup harvest. We were mainly there to spend time with our friends, with the added benefit of Caleb getting to bring one of his favorite parts of the book, Farmer Boy, to life.

But, we got firsthand experience tapping maple trees, and that firsthand experience is what can take an idea from the dream stage to the execution stage. If I had a maple tree on my 1/10th of an acre (or anywhere near it), I would have no trouble tapping my own tree.

When I started making toys for my son, I watch you tube videos, and read articles, but it wasn’t til I actually bought a scroll saw, that I really thought that I could do this.

But learning how to tap maple trees wasn’t the only thing I learned that day.

I’ve been having trouble with the cord for my miter saw (Dewalt, sliding miter saw, don’t go a day without using it). At some point in its history, before it came to live with me, someone had given it a new plug. After owning it for about 4 years, this plug wasn’t working right anymore. I had to jiggle the cord around regularly to get it to work.

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I’ve been concerned about this, and unsure of where I would even take it to be fixed.

Well, at my friends’ farm, David, electrical/mechanical whiz, happened to be having trouble with some aspect of their power system, and close to the time we were going to leave, I realized that he probably knew what was wrong with my plug.

First he gave me a rundown on what was likely the problem, and how to fix it. BUT being the thorough and generous man he is, he went out to the barn and found me a piece of wire with a plug to get hands-on experience. He walked me through it step-by-step and had me do the work myself in order to cement the knowledge into my head.

I haven’t actually gotten around to fixing mine yet, but when I do, I will have perfect confidence that I can do it correctly.

Learning from other people is a highly underutilized resource. Youtube videos are great (I just used one to learn how to replace the belt on my dryer), but there is nothing like a real person there helping you out.

You don’t have to depend on the goodwill of friends and relations either (though most people are happy to lend their knowledge to help you, particularly if you don’t infringe upon their time). If you just pay attention to your repairmen, you can learn a lot.

That is how I learned how to do my own plumbing. Or rather how I got the confidence to glue pipes together (I had PVC pipes in my house). I just watched my handyman as he fixed the breaks and then next time, I just did what he did.

Another way you can learn without feeling like you are burdening your sources of knowledge is to volunteer to help them on their next project. This works best with friends, professionals would probably just feel you were in the way. If you want to get experience from your handy relative, offer to hold the tools for them when they put in their new ceiling fan, or prepare the grout when they are retiling their bathroom.

Most things that we need to learn how to do in life are not difficult, but they can be intimidating when you don’t know what you are doing. Rather than remain in your state of fear and ignorance, and forever paying the “expert”, stretch your limits. Ask for help. Never stop learning new things.

Oh, and Dave, if you are reading this, my miter saw doesn’t have a grounding wire. What??

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