Discomfort and Learning

Discomfort and Learning

“How many blogs have you written so far?” Lulu, my parrot, watching me use my laptop.

Lulu, my parrot, speaks like a well-trained lawyer. No question is posed without having given a thought to the one coming up in the sequel. I have learnt to be careful while answering his questions. I decided it was safe to disclose the number without any further disclosure.

“Around 1500 blogs. Or blog posts as they are sometimes called.”

“Wow! What type of blogs?”

“On my website, the HR blogs, then there are some light reading ones. I used to post my photographs on my Photo Blog. I have posted Marathi blogs, and I wrote limericks too! About 950 blog posts out of the 1500 are on HR or labour relations!”

(Lulu, my parrot)

“Wow! A prolific writer!!”

“Lulu, don’t pull my leg”

“Tell me how did it begin”

“It all begins in mind, Lulu. When I was almost forced by my colleague to start blogging, I was uncomfortable. I can’t describe how uncomfortable I was.”


“There was fear of ridicule. I was conscious of writing in English. I have learnt it with great difficulty. For many years I could not follow even story books. Speaking English was a huge mental hurdle.”

“I understand you. That’s what fear does. A child does not have fear. So a child speaks any language and learns quickly.”

“I was not a child when I started writing in the English language. I had the fear as I mentioned. Good and crisp expressions were missing. Reading Wodehouse made me aware how beautifully one can write about a simple situation.”

“He was the master of that art. Tell me, what did you do?”

“I started noting good expressions, catchy phrases and I noted the words which I did not know, looking up their meaning in the dictionary. I started using them.”

“Did the discomfort go away?”

“Nah! It used to spike when I experimented with anything new. But, I do not know why, I did not give it up.”

“I know people started appreciating your blogs. That must have encouraged you to write more and more ….”

“You said it, Lulu. And now I will soon be publishing a book on labour relations in English”

“Wow, that’s quite a journey. Adam Grant explains it well.”

Adam Grant is my favourite author. What does he say?”

“He says learning begins when you begin practicing something, and it causes discomfort. As it happened to you. You were aware that you had to learn the language and learn writing blogs in English”


“But you continued despite the discomfort, and made progress. More practice, more progress!”

“Adam Grant must have studied many people like me, it seems”

“And the relatively higher comfort led to more practice ….”

“This is so true. I experimented with writing blogs in two or three formats. And that gave me some insights on how to write as well as what to write about. It gave me insights about structuring my blog, editing, cutting out the unnecessary arguments and using crisp expressions. At least so I think.

“And that completes the cycle, my friend. You begin with knowledge of the language, practiced writing, experienced discomfort, but kept practicing it, so made good progress, which led to even more practice. You wrote 950 blogs on your website! And that in turn increases your knowledge.”

“Is that what Adam Grant is talking about? Is that the learning cycle?”

“Yes, discomfort drives it …”


“And it increases knowledge. Adam Grant does not talk about this but let me tell you …. Knowledge in Sanskrit or most Indian languages is ‘Gyan’ or ‘Dnyan’. Do you know what the word ‘Gya’ or ‘Dnya’ in Sanskrit stands for?”

“Hmmmm ……..”

It stands for self-knowledge. As you practice anything for a long time, and as you gain proficiency, you start learning something about yourself. You understand what you are good at, what spoils your creativity. You learn about yourself, how your thoughts and feelings guide your expression in a thousand different ways.

“That’s so true, Lulu.”

“Your work reveals something about yourself to you. And it offers us, readers, a doorway in to your life.”

“I get it”

“You must have learnt as much about yourself by writing blogs as by failing to make a good painting.”

Lulu winked at me, and flew away quickly. He knew where it would hurt me, my area of discomfort, and had just punched there!

PS: Feature Pic Courtesy Dmitry Ratushny on Unsplash

Vivek S Patwardhan

“What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others.”