Last Christmas, Mutually Human gave out presents to all the employees which now ranks in the top 3 gifts I’ve ever received, only trumped by a Caramel Apple from my husband and a box of special dental floss from my parents. That probably doesn’t help the credibility of this gift, but the reason this gift has been awarded the number 3 slot is simple: It forces me to try something new.
The gift is a monthly subscription to “New Hobby Box.” Each month, I receive a package in the mail filled with a new hobby centered around skills, electronics, the arts, or entertainment. The box contains everything you need to learn the basics of a new skill. So far, materials and instructions have given me the chance to experience: indoor gardening, calligraphy, scrimshaw (don’t worry, I had to google it too), soap making, crochet, and my favorite—a kit and instructions on how to pick locks.
The monthly surprise has opened my eyes to one very important principle. Until you experience something, you can’t fully appreciate it. I’ve watched my mom crochet before; however, I never realized the incredible patience that went into making that perfectly stitched afghan that I pull over me in the cold winter months. I’ve received beautiful wedding invitations handwritten with calligraphy. I remember thinking “Why not use a computer and a nice font?” Now, I understand that calligraphy is an art and an experience to create with a quill and a bottle of ink.
I doubt I’ll be selling any of my creations on Etsy, but I look forward to the delivery of my hobby box each month.
It may feel tough when you have looming client deadlines or other obligations, but the same is true in our professional life. Until you have stepped in and ran a storymap workshop, can you truly understand how to participate to your fullest potential? I encourage designers to learn to write a few lines of code. I encourage developers to lead the next stand-up. And Product Managers to try your hand at designing a nice interface.
You don’t have to be awesome at a new experience to gain insight and perspective. I plan to continue to buy soap from the store. I have a call in to a locksmith to unlock the chest in my bedroom that is locked with the keys inside. And, I’m definitely going bribe my mom to crochet all my afghans, but I learned what it takes and have a new appreciation for those skills.
Bottom line—The best way to continue to better yourself as a person and as a professional is to commit to being a life long learner.