Intimidated by technology, we’ve all been there. I know I have, especially when either trying something new, or something that I don’t feel confident about. While I understand it, I’ve also seen people from every age group, and various backgrounds do so successfully. I would like to share some tips to help navigate it less stressfully.
As both now a middle aged man, and just starting out as a young man, I’ve had to learn new systems. As a college student I was privileged to have one of the most advanced computer professors I have ever met named Professor Ginny Alvis. Miss Alvis was past her sixth decade, and had come to computers later in life, yet she was as good with them as anyone I’ve ever known.
She was the head of the computer division. Seeing and knowing Miss Alvis reinforced for me the idea that anyone can navigate technology. Over twenty years in business, including several years in customer service, has expanded on this.
First and foremost, and I say this as someone who has dealt with people from all walks of life, you can do this. There is this false narrative out there which says “I’m not smart enough”, which is not only untrue, it’s a flawed concept. We tend to view our natural adeptness to certain areas as an indicator of intelligence, and that’s not accurate.
Einstein struggled in school. A number of scientists have enabled astronauts to reach the moon, yet could not drive a car. I’ve known a number of people brilliantly skilled in one area who are may feel difficultyin another area. This is true of doctors, lawyers, salesmen, teachers, and any profession. You are smart, please know that first.
Second, perhaps computers don’t come naturally to you, that does not mean you can’t conquer them. It may not be your strength, and while we play to our strengths, there are some areas we can be productive in though not natural to us. I would suggest technology is worth attempting even if it’s a challenge because of the potential benefits it brings.
For the purposes of this article I won’t spend much time here except to say it provides you access to family, friends, and information not readily accessible other ways. We all have to decide if the benefits outweigh the obstacles along the path. The answer will be different for everyone, for me the answer is yes.
Thirdly I would encourage you to approach every new system as a totally new system. One danger I see in helping others is we associate one program with another. While some features may be similar, others will differ. There are times when those similarities are helpful but at the beginning they can be a disadvantage.
Don’t assume because one program you’ve used worked one way that the new one will. This often causes frustration. When you treat every new system as something that is completely new, meaning that you don’t allow preconceived ideas to affect your understanding of its functions, it will benefit you.
While you may quickly notice similarities, allow them to be surprises, or mark them as the exception and not the rule. Doing so will enable you to learn the new system as is, and it will keep you open to learning the ins and outs of the new system.
Fourth, and this is critical in long term productivity with technology, don’t stop learning new systems. As a Minister I’ve seen other Ministers learn how to use a particular Bible program, and then stop trying anything else. As a writer I’ve seen it happen with word processing software too.
The danger here is twofold. First, what happens when your favorite program is discontinued? Second, how challenging will it be to learn a new system when you’re not in practice? Keeping pace with new technology, in a particular area of interest, will keep you fluid. None of us can be active in every area, but we can in those areas that pertain to our focus and wellbeing.
The key here is practiced adaptability. The ability to adapt in business, technology, and life leads to prolonged productivity. I’m reminded of the story of Lionel and John Barrymore. Lionel was a character actor, John was a leading man. Over time, John grew passed the stage where he could play that role, Lionel continued to play roles in movies until at least the year before his death.
Practiced adaptability can go farther than natural ability when consistently applied. Is it easy, no, often it’s frustrating, but it can be rewarding. I believe the key is to keep in mind the larger goal, technology is merely another tool.
Any tool is valuable when applied correctly. Most tools are challenging when first beginning. Many tools can be dangerous, especially when we don’t give them our complete attention. The same is true of computers.
The fifth suggestion is one that can make the difference between success and failure. Ask for help, but seek help with an open mind. In technology I’ve often see someone have a “Help me if you can attitude, but the system is what’s broken” mindset. At times this may even be the truth, but if you approach assistance from this standpoint, it can be harder for you to receive the help you need.
It may also take the form of being embarrassed by needing help. Please don’t ever be too embarrassed to ask for help with computers. Systems change with one revision. Technology is challenging, but conquerable.
Don’t give up. Don’t measure your ability by the challenge. Don’t assume. Keep learning, and ask for help with an open mind. These steps will help you successfully go from being intimidated by technology to successfully navigating and developing new skills which will enhance your life and career.