When you're stepping into the realm of the unknown and doing something completely new and foreign to you, it can sometimes seem like you're making little or no progress. I realized yesterday that sometimes we need to forget about celebrating milestones along the way, and celebrate the inchstones instead.
Last night I went to a fundraiser for a fabulous organization, Room to Read. Room to Read funds schools and libraries in impoverished areas around the world, with the belief that education is the key to breaking the cycle of poverty.
One of the things the organization does to help kids learn is publish bi-lingual children's books - in the regional language and in English. At the event they had a table with a variety of the books laid out. I immediately recognized some of them as being in Khmer (which as I've mentioned, I'm studying).
As I was leafing through one of them, I started talking with a couple other people about the language. Looking at the Khmer text of the book, one person made the comment that all the letters look the same to her. Another said she felt more like she could play what was written there on her flute than read it.
That shined a light on the progress I've made in Khmer. I started teaching myself the language about a month ago. At the time it all looked like a bunch of meaningless squiggles to me as well. But last night as I looked at it, I saw a bunch of text written in a familiar alphabet. I could point to the letters and say what they were.
Other than the occasional random word that I recognized, I still had no idea what it was talking about, but the contrast with the perspectives of those who had never looked at the language before made me realize that I really was making progress. Maybe it wasn't leaps and bounds, but it was inching forward. And that was something to celebrate.
It occurred to me that sometimes our perceived lack of progress is all a matter of perspective. The picture we're looking at is too big to be realistic. Sometimes we need to get down and celebrate the inchstones and trust that, step by step, they will eventually turn into milestones.
Brought to you by Curt Rosengren, Passion Catalyst TM