As the online portion of my two-year Professional Communications program cranks up, the biggest struggle is not fitting the work into my day or evening. No, it’s losing the feeling of competence I used to have.

I’ve been running my own business for close to 20 years. I write every day, and modestly think I do a pretty good job of it. Suddenly, the tasks in front of me are unfamiliar, the language dense and complicated. I don’t know what I’m doing, and I don’t like it.

Coincidentally, or perhaps not, life coach Lee Weisser recently sent her newsletter on just this painful experience of change. She quotes French novelist Andre Gide:

“One doesn’t discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time.”

Lee goes on to say that transformational change is indeed an uncomfortable process:

“[It] requires a deep learning process, pushing the boundaries of who you are and revealing your blind spots. Deep learning changes how we think and how we behave…And, in a sense, you have to turn yourself inside out — being curious and suspending judgment — to discover just what you’re capable of.”

So while I have definitely lost sight of the shore for now, I will hope that this sensation of being incompetent is temporary. Two years will fly past, as I know from watching my two sons grow up. And in the end, the achievement will be all the more meaningful for being difficult, won’t it? That’s what I’m telling myself, anyway.

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