I’ve shared this story before: in the old days, watermills and windmills littered the countryside. You took your grain there to be ground between giant millstones. Those stones slowly wore down, the grooves cut in their surface faded away, until they needed to be recut, a process known as ‘dressing‘. This was done by stone dressers who travelled the country, turning up at each mill and touting for business.
Have you heard the expression ‘show us your mettle‘, meaning, ‘show us how good you are‘? As they dressed the stone, flakes of metal would fly off the chisels, some of them embedding in the forearm of the workman. Over time, the forearm would turn black. ‘Show us your mettle‘, meant to show your forearm as a sign of how experienced you were. Learning changes us: experience shows in how we act and what we do. We all have to show our mettle sometimes.
The blog is in New York this week on a combination of workshops and holiday, so we’re defaulting to our holiday game of sharing short and reflective ‘words about learning’.