Leadership Lessons from China: The Lesson of the Learning Curve

On day one of our recent China trip, I thought I was in trouble.  We sat down to have our first meal in the country and the waiter handed me a pack of chopsticks.  Uh-oh!

I was horrible.  The first week I lost about five pounds.  Not because the food was bad.  It was because I was a disaster with the sticks.

There was no turning back, though.  No forks in sight.  It was sink (starve) or swim time.

After a week, I began to get the hang of them.  After two weeks, I was showing signs.  By the end of the trip, they were suggesting that I take on an Asian name.

Using chopsticks three times a day for three weeks reminded me that proficiency is available in almost any discipline.  But discipline is required.

Any time you try something new, there definitely is a learning curve.  Unfortunately, the curve is when most people give up.  For some reason we all like straight roads more than the crooked ones.

The best places are at the end of crooked roads.  Places where the view is worth the effort to get there.

On the last night of our trip I attended a cookout with our team members and a group of Chinese high school students.  The meal was Grilled Chicken and baked beans.  It was the first western meal I had eaten in a couple of weeks.

I found myself sitting by a young boy from China, both of our plates loaded down, but with one noticeable difference.  In his hand was a shiny American fork, and in mine was a set of old wooden chopsticks.

In that moment I was proud of us both.  For we both had mastered the challenging “lesson of the learning curve.”



When was the last time you tried something new?

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Scott Humphrey

10 years ago


Bob Wilhite

10 years ago

Five years ago I left my twenty three year career as a network engineer for other pursuits. In the last five years I have been a Realtor, a real estate investor, a subcontractor / cabinet installer and an over the road truck driver.
What I discovered is that in a long term career the learning is gradual and it is not such a conscious effort. In my other experiences, due to the abrupt change, a much more focused effort was needed to become proficient.
I am blessed with the opportunity to return to my engineering career on Monday. I think this time I will be more aware of growth opportunities and, as you are teaching here, use more discipline to increase my proficiency.


10 years ago

Congrats Bob!


10 years ago

thanks Scott!


10 years ago

Thank goodness you are back! I have missed your insight!
My “something new”, and a huge learning curve, is that I am starting a blog! I am still working on the technical aspects of it, but I am learning a lot! I look forward to sharing it with you when I am ready…it will focus on living out your faith in business and doing business with an eternal perspective. Pray I can learn this faster than I have learned other things!


10 years ago

Great story and lesson


10 years ago

thanks Doc!

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