Questions are key to learning

The first time you do something requires a lot of investment. Time, sweat, tears, sacrifice. Taking that leap is so difficult and, at times, painful. This is the learning process.

I have always had a passion for learning, but I never loved school. School restricted my creativity; it tried to fit me into a box and make me conform to specific, predetermined ways of thinking. I turned to art and design because it gave me an outlet for expression that no other subject could provide. It let me creatively solve problems and answer questions with more than just a pencil and paper.

I've always asked questions, in no small part because of my dad. He asked questions that he didn't know the answers to all the time. If there was no answer, most people would just accept it and move on. Not my dad. He always asked questions as a carpenter, and the next thing I knew he was solving the problem with his own creative solution. He also wrestled with big questions about the universe and Heaven that he didn't have answers for, inciting a flame in me to ask the same.

I recall being laughed at in classrooms when I would accidentally ask an obvious question. It was embarrassing, but my desire to understand was greater than my desire to appear a fool. Eventually I learned how to ask better, smarter questions to get the results I wanted.

I was amazed in college when my peers would not ask questions. Even when everyone in the classroom was thinking the same thing, wrought with confusion, few would speak up. The indifference and cowardice bored and sometimes angered me. I would ask not for them, but for myself because I wanted and even needed to know.

Since then, I've gotten better at asking the right questions to get the answers I want. Then again, sometimes I ask too many questions, as a friend recently informed me when we were planning on meeting up. "You ask too many questions," she said, so I asked more just to annoy her.

Admittedly, questions can be annoying, but, it might be the only way to grow and learn. The process is never easy, requiring investment and hard work. The initial breakthrough demands intense focus, often resulting in stressful days and sleepless nights. When you want to give up is exactly when you have to push through. You have to learn to manage the stress, as the influx of knowledge and processing of information changes your mind.

It has been scientifically proven that learning is addictive, and I can attest to that. I love enveloping myself in learning a new technology and putting it into practice. The more I've pursued learning, the more I want to learn. There is no feeling like the sense of accomplishment you feel after you've labored relentlessly to create something brand new.

While I am curious about most things, my interest is peaked at the intersection of design and technology. That is where I do most of my learning. Being targeted in my approach helps me learn more efficiently. I know that I cannot comprehend the entire world, or even the entire worlds of design and technology, but if I can learn bit by bit, it will add up.

My own experience has taught me that learning accumulates. You may not remember specifics, but the influence of what you learned is still there. It has shaped, even in a small way, who you are and what you know. The knowledge snowballs until it is a powerful mass that can be used to build things, including snowmen.

Therein lies the value of experience; it is the accumulation of knowledge over time. It cannot be taught because it has to be earned through experience. Experience does not happen overnight, but is a process that starts with a question.

Don't be afraid to ask.