It’s Monday morning and I am watching my kid play with his stackable cups. He is improving his motor skills and tries to learn how to stack these cups.
He is fully focused, calm and concentrated. He is in an ideal flow state. It is remarkable. It seems like nothing can distract him. He is just trying and tinkering to put one cup on top of another. He fails and succeeds. He keeps going.
I start thinking “I want to learn with this kind of dedication. Maybe there is something I can copy to have the same focus and calmness while learning?”.
But then. He failed a couple of times too often. The cups just didn’t want to stack. The frustration got him. He hit his tower of stacked cups, throw cups around, and screamed. The focus and concentration were clearly over.
He crawled away and played with something else.
But then, an hour later, he came back and tried again.
This is when I realized: frustration is part of learning. Learning can get frustrating. Learning is frustrating. At some point, we all felt frustrated by learning.
But that is not a bad thing. Frustration is good. It shows us that we are on to something. It shows us that we are pushing our limits.
If getting frustrated is normal, what is the important part? What did I learn from watching my child?
The important part is to come back. Come back and try again. Don’t let the frustration win, demotivate you, discourage you. Take a break and come back. You might have a fresh perspective. You might have a new idea. You might just have more energy to tackle the problem again.
We learn through iteration, which means failure and frustration are part of learning. But so is coming back. Coming back closes the iteration loop.