So, I made a decision to try something new in December. I offered to help out a group that will see some of my expertise utilized during my off time. I am really excited for the opportunity and I believe that it will be a lot of fun. But as I started to dive more into it, I realized that the situation requires stepping out of my comfort zone and changing the way I think on certain matters.

So in my free time, I have been watching several videos to increase my knowledge on how this group would like to operate.  It is very tedious and seems like I am recapping a lot of things that I already know. The last part is the reason I believe that it is the most stressful.

I believe most people develop a certain level of comfort on a subject and continue to add bits and pieces to their knowledge of the subject. Going through the motions is not an option here as the position I have taken is actually lower than the one I had in the past. I will be consulting to the position that I had but will have a larger say in the big picture (so implementing my own way of doing things was not an option).

According to a study conducted by scientists and reported by, rats that are in their twilight years have a harder time learning new things due to the flexibility of the prefrontal cortex. As rats are usually a good basis for human comparisons in brain studies, it found that stress can cause nerve cells to shrink and lose synapses and after the recovery process, do not rebound like younger individuals. This study was being conducted for Alzheimer’s research but shows how difficult it can be for older adults to rewire their thinking.

I am not saying that I can’t adjust to what the group is looking for, just that adjusting to something that I have been doing a certain way for over a decade has been challenging. This has become more problematic as I try to balance multiple facets of my life: manager, husband, father, son and dedicated teammate. I know that I am preaching to the choir when I say that sometimes there doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day.

Talking with the leader of the group, he is excited to finally have someone that he can talk to about the project. For a number of years he had been going it alone, taking some of the focus away from the overall development of the group. He hopes to have someone that he can hand the reins over to (maybe me, maybe someone else).

My mind was put to ease after the discussion as he talked about how much of the stuff the group would be working on was new to him; we would be “learning together.”  I hope that with the collaboration of him, another consultant and myself, that we can make the business more successful than it had been in prior years.

So, after a long day at work and after the kids go down for bed, I will be turning on my computer and watching training videos for a half hour or so.  I hope that with the different knowledge that I am obtaining that I don’t end up like Homer Simpson — “Every time I learn something knew it pushes some old stuff out of my brain.” Well here’s to increased absorbtion of knowledge and a fresh pot of coffee!

Zach Stich is the managing editor of The Fergus Falls Daily Journal. His column appears Thursday.


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