The Sunday night before I started my PMP (Project Management Professional) class, the instructor sent out an email on what to bring to class and some links for additional study. In that email, he said we would be doing algebra and provided a link to Kahn Academy’s algebra lessons. “Algebra??” I said aloud in my hotel room. “I’m not doing algebra.” I grimaced as I thought about my high school and college algebra classes. I never understood it. It was a foreign language that I could barely grasp enough to pass.
WTF? Algebra? Isn’t that what calculators and spreadsheet formulas were for? I wrestled with my resistance and finally decided that surely he was just exaggerating. I’d find my way around this. I didn’t have time to learn algebra again.
Fast forward to this morning on a sunny Sunday, and I’m watching three webinars on how to calculate Earned Value, Net Present Value and Future Value. It took me until the last minute. I fought it every step of the way. “Maybe there wouldn’t be that many questions on that,” I tried to assure myself. Or what if I just memorized the formulas and plugged in the numbers? Surely that wouldn’t be that hard. But after missing question after question on the practice tests and realizing that I’d have to memorize about 20 formulas with a bunch of unrelated letters and symbols, I realized that I would have to learn the underlying reason for the math and compute algebra equations. It was standing in the way of what I wanted. The motivation, at last, overcame my resistance.
Yoga taught me how to deal with resistance. When I feel resistance in a pose, I’ve found my edge. It’s at my edge where I improve. But I can’t push past it, or I can get hurt. I have to surrender to the resistance and work intuitively and patiently until the resistance releases. The resistance will stop me long enough to teach me what I need to know about my body. I don’t actually overcome it, I learn to dance with it.
I don’t know whether I’m going to pass my test tomorrow or not. It all depends on how well prepared I am for the bank of questions that I draw. I’m as ready as I can be given the time I’ve had. I’ve learned a lot this last month. When I decided I was going to go for this certification, I made a decision that I wanted to learn it. I didn’t want to just employ a bunch of tricks to pass the test, and I’ve done as much as I can to truly learn the material. I already see lots of improvement I can make in my work. And it feels really good to have learned something new and to have undertaken a new challenge. No matter what happens tomorrow, I’ve won in that regard.
Resistance is not the enemy. It is the force that holds me until I gain knowledge, muscle, health and even serenity. In my surrender to its will, I grow and learn. Resistance is not the enemy. Resistance is the teacher.
P.S. I still don’t want to do algebra. But I will, I tell you. I will.