My 1-year-old son, Noah, has always been an eater. From the moment he realized that he could put solid food into his mouth and chew (lack of teeth was a minute detail for him), he would bang on his high-chair tray, demanding more solid food. My wife and I were always astounded by his appetitite … until recently.
Noah stopped eating these last few weeks. At breakfast, I ask him “do you want eggs?” “Nahhhh” was his reply. He nibbled on some shredded cheese and half a piece of bread, and that was it.
Are we, the parents, worried?
My wife is a trombone player. You may know this if you have played any wind instruments, but their mouth piece is one crucial piece of instrument. For brass players, it’s the piece with a semi-cylindrical dome to blow into, with a skinnier tube running out of it.
Some mouthpieces are easier to blow into — great for beginners. But it may compromise your instrument’s range. Other mouthpieces, the opposite. It is normal during a player’s development to switch the main mouthpiece every once in a while.
But what happens when you do switch the instrument?
For a while, you may not be able to play. Not very well, anyway.
Is that a cause for concern?
Of course not. The setback is only temporary. And even if the new mouthpiece doesn’t turn out to be the right one, you can always switch back, or try another one.
Growth Is Not a Linear Curve
We tend to think of growing as a straight growth, an always-up affair, like this graph:
But in reality, a lot of growth is like this:
It used to frustrate me to no end that sometimes I experience not only stagnation in my growth, but setbacks. Things I could do, I can’t. I would look at myself and go, what am I doing wrong? Why is it that I’m moving backwards?
But now that I have more realistic understanding of what growth is, I don’t get frustrated or worried. I just simply accept the temporary step-downs, and keep doing what I’m doing.
In fact, in my experience, growth tends to look more like this:
Notice how a period of stagnation, where there doesn’t seem to be any change. Then it dips down. This may be caused by some breakage necessary to form new, stronger parts. Or it may simply be an equivalent of crouching down before jumping.
This is followed by a break through. And usually, this is not subtle nor gradual. One day, I find myself on the new plateau. Boom! Just like that. I have arrived.
In blogging circles, we use the phrase “tipping points.” Our day-to-day work may not seem to be yielding any growth — then along comes a tipping point, bumping up the traffic to a new level. There are occasional dips, of course — but it doesn’t necessarily mean that there’s something wrong with our site. Instead of panicking and troubleshooting at each dip, we just take it all in stride, seeing if the down-slide is a temporary trend or more chronic one.
Keep Your Faith
I think understanding the nature of growth helps us to keep our faith. To not get frustrated and be more patient.
Next time you hit a wall or experience a set back — remember, growth is not a linear curve. Keep at it.