Welcome overwhelm and frustration – it means you’re learning and growing…

Welcome overwhelm and frustration – it means you’re learning and growing…

Do you ever feel like you’re just not “getting it”, no matter how hard you’re trying?

If you do, please read this entire message – it’s a very personal story I think you’ll relate to, and hopefully be encouraged by…

I really do understand that sometimes when there’s so much to learn, it can feel like you’re never going to “get it”.  Here’s just one time in my life that I felt the same way…

I went to a university on a business scholarship. To round out my classes in first year, I had to choose an “elective” course – one that wasn’t part of my core curriculum.

I had no experience with computers at all, but thought it would help my business degree to be familiar with them, so I elected to enroll in an introductory computer science course.

After months of classes and many, many sleepless nights in the computer lab, I nearly dropped out of the course.

While I could barely figure out how to turn the darn computer on, everyone around me was pumping out software with apparent ease.

It seemed like no matter how I tried, and how much I wanted to, I just wasn’t “getting it.”

I sat in classes and the professors sounded like they were speaking in a foreign language.

I spent nights and nights in the lab, trying everything I could, getting help from everyone and anyone who had the patience to answer the same basic questions – over and over.

Finally, after months of dedicated but fruitless effort, I asked my professor to let me out of the course before the deadline so I could avoid a failing mark on this – my elective course – and lose my entire scholarship, which I could not financially afford to do.

She smiled knowingly and made me a deal.  “Stick with it for another month. Keep doing what you’re doing, and ask me for as much help as you want. If after that month you still want to drop the course, I will let you do it without assigning the failing grade.”

“What’s the point?” I asked.  “I’ve been at this for months, and I’m not getting it at all.  Even if I did, I’d be a half year behind the calls and probably fail anyway.”

“I’ll help you,” she said.  “Why don’t you try it? You’ve got nothing to lose, really.”

So I agreed, even though in the back of my mind I thought I’d be having this same conversation with her after a month.

But I was very interested in learning how this darn computer stuff worked.  So I applied myself in earnest.  After all, I had nothing to lose. The pressure was off.

After a week, nothing changed.

But I kept at it.

After two weeks, I was more frustrated than ever, and all my classmates by now figured I was a lost cause.

But I kept at it.

I tried everything.


I focused to the exclusion of everything else.

Nothing worked.

Until mid way through the third week…

In one sudden, unexpected moment … EVERYTHING changed.

For the first time after months and months of “failure” (which I now know was actually “learning”), my first program worked.  IT WORKED!

In the middle of the night, surrounded in the computer lab by a few of my fellow students I let out a victory scream that I’m sure carried across the campus and woke up the kids in residence bunk beds.

It was sheer joy.  An unbelievable sense of accomplishment.  I thought I heard harps playing as the clouds parted!

Mind you, it was the most basic of programs.  The other kids were writing more sophisticated programs since high school.

But it was MY program.  And now I had a taste of what *I* could do, and a budding sense of “I CAN do this”….

Well, thanks to that lovely professor who wouldn’t let me give up on myself, I wound up shifting my classes to major in computer science and minor in business admin and graduated second in my class, missing the “Gold” by fractions of a percentage point.

That degree, plus the business courses, has meant millions of dollars to me, and has been some of the most fulfilling work I’ve ever done.

Because of it, I’ve travelled extensively all around the world, doing business in Asia, Europe, North and South America.

To think I was about to give up on it altogether because I thought I couldn’t “get it” at first…

Why am I telling you this?

In case you’re feeling like you are overwhelmend, and aren’t “getting it,” or don’t see how you’re going to achieve your information business goals.

I am paying forward the same encouragement my angel professor offered me.

I realized that the reason I was “frustrated” was because I had such a huge desire to learn but I set expectations that far exceeded my current ability to achieve them.

Worse, I was comparing myself to my classmates and activated some pretty harsh self-talk when I couldn’t “keep up” – ignoring completely the years of prior learning and experience they already had!

As soon as I took the pressure off, stopped comparing myself to others, and just took on the challenge of “me against the machine” for my own personal joy and satisfaction, I created the space for the breakthrough that I’d been unkowingly resisting for all those months before.

Is any of this sounding familiar?

If it is, I encourage you to “shift into glide” during your learning process and let it come … naturally, effortlessly, joyfully – in it’s right and perfect time (for you!)

Focus on your dreams.

Commit to your learning.

Stop comparing yourself to others and honor your own unique and special path.

And when you let out your victory scream — let me hear all the way over here!

Share your comments below and let me know how this resonates with you — and inspire me and others with your story.


About the Author

14 Enlightened Replies

Trackback  •  Comments RSS

  1. Kat says:

    Unbelievable. This is so much like my story… I also got a Comp Sci degree and was also the beginner in the Unix lab late at night trying to get the Sun machine to print "Hello World", with every other guy laughing quietly as they wrote compilers…Ahh those crazy days.

    I was certain I'd become a philosopher instead.

    I overcame my fear of it, got a minor in Philosophy and went on to win a Webby last year. I couldn't believe it. The "un-nerdy" "theater type". Whoda thought?

    Great post. Spoke to my secret nerd heart.

    Much love,

    • Lou D'Alo says:

      Kat — LOL, yes, yes: "Hello World" totally proves you were there.
      Great to meet you, fellow nerd-(formerly)-in-hiding (and congrats on the Webby!)

  2. Hey Lou,
    thanks for being such a light in the business world for all of us!
    It's all about persevering – AND having amazing people in our lives who believe in us!

    Great post!

    • Lou D'Alo says:

      Therese – you are SO right.

      I've got to phone someone I love dearly and tell them how much I believe in her.
      Thanks for the reminder. 🙂

  3. Joann says:

    Hi Lou – Yep, you described me in the continuing midst of beginning my blog. Heck, I am still churning about my niche! Paralyzed, can't sleep – don't know who this person is! I will figure this out. Thanks.

  4. Bhakti says:

    I feel welcome to a club that has so many members! Yes I have done all of the above, from frustration and overwhelm to resination and plodding to YES I CAN. And although the I CAN feels a bit small it's only because I am comparing myself to others.
    And so I plod on in my tortoise-like way with the occasional rush of the hare. And the magic for me is when I relax and accept that my pace is not just OK, it's the best!

  5. Terry says:

    Hi, Lou!
    I REALLY needed to hear this right now. Thank you for sharing your story. Sometimes it seems like things go so slowly. Plus there is the ever present tendency to beat ourselves up because obviously (we say to ourselves), we must be doing something wrong, or not devoting enough time or we're not destined for success or…. It helps to be reminded that (1) this is a normal part of the process at times, (2) the answer could be right around the corner and (3) QUIT comparing ourselves to others!

  6. Louisa says:

    Thank you for sharing, Lou.

    It makes you more human 🙂
    Who would have thought that Lou has trouble with anything?

    This only shows that you too went through the same path that we are going through now.
    and if we keep at it, miracles can happen.

    Very inspirational.


  7. Hi Lou
    Excellent story and I can definitely relate to it. I too started off with low grades in Chemistry, ended up doing Masters in Chemistry being first in my college. Later I excelled in banking and now exploring the Entrepreneur in me. I wish to reiterate the following simple but powerful statements from you!
    Focus on your dreams. –

    Commit to your learning.

    Stop comparing yourself to others and honor your own unique and special path.

    Thanks for the inspiration

    And when you let out your victory scream — let me hear all the way over here!

  8. Amanda says:

    Hello Lou,
    This is my first time hearing about you or the work you contribute to the world. I have just finished listening to the replay call you hosted with Rick Raddatz. Talk about timing, I totally needed to hear this information. Nothing happens by mistake as I just happened to pick Rick's email out the 111 I have in my inbox. I instantly jelled with your relationship marketing system and sought out to learn more about you.
    Finding and taking time to read this article was an added bonus to the call. I am a solopreneur , need I say more? Thanks for who you are and the life assignment you have accepted, it is appreciated.


  9. Lou D'Alo says:

    Thanks for the kind words Amanda. Hope our paths cross again soon, and often.

  10. Lou, this very much resonates with me. I am just hoping I get to the aha moment eventually.

  11. Robert Seth says:

    Interesting I should find this post now Lou. I feel like I'm finally at the middle of the third week point where you were when you finally got it. Things are really coming together. But there has been SO MUCH of the rest of what you described. I have finally decided to do just what you said, glide! And enjoy the ride! Thanks for a great post Lou and I'm glad that great teacher didn't let you give up on yourself!