I received a Metal Inert Gas (MIG) welder for my birthday this past year. The fact that I had another birthday is not that great, the fact that I now have a welder is very cool. You see, I have some stuff I need to weld. Mostly welders are just awesome. It has been a long time since I have welded. Although I have always loved the idea of welding, I had an incident way back in high school that suppressed my welding urge for many decades. Despite the excitement regarding my birthday present, this prehistoric incident has slowed down my engagement with the new welder.

When I was in high school, we had to take either art, shop or band. The high school art teacher told me not to sign up for art. Apparently, she knew the middle school art teacher well and they discussed my very limited artistic potential. For some reason, I was not interested in band at the time. I leaned towards shop classes because I liked to work on cars.

Selecting shop meant taking classes in drafting, wood shop and metal shop. Drafting and wood shop went okay, although I was not good at drafting and I saw a kid get his finger cut off by a bandsaw in wood shop. I will never forget the looks we students gave each other when our teacher told us to “go look for his finger in the exhaust bin.”

Finally, I started metal shop. I really liked this class where we learned to grind, forge, and use a lathe. Towards the end of the class we learned how to weld on an ancient Lincoln 225-amp stick welder. I loved welding and created many projects with my new-found skill. Towards the end of the semester as I was welding my final project, I discovered the true power of electricity. I had been electrocuted before, but nothing serious. As I lowered my helmet and struck an arc, I somehow inserted myself in the circuit of the welder. I was blown several feet away from the welder. My chest swelled up and I felt like I had been in a car wreck. There were burn marks on my legs and I was struggling to breath. My teacher must not have wanted this incident on his record because he gave me a glass of water and sent me to my next class. I felt horrible the rest of the day and for several days later. After this incident, I resigned from welding the rest of the semester. In fact, until recently, I have had no desire to weld at all since this episode of almost 40 years ago.

You have heard of the idea of getting back on the horse after falling off. The thought behind this is, you need to get back on the horse quickly before developing a fear that will keep you from horseback riding.  As much as I enjoyed welding, this shock made continuing to participate in this interesting hobby a low priority. I simply could not get back on the horse.

Finally, after several decades, I have decided to try my hand at welding again. I must admit I am a bit nervous about getting back into welding. I have read a lot of instructional material and watched several videos on how to safely weld. The new welder is now several months old, yet I have only tried it a few times. Because I avoided welding for so long, I developed a phobia, or irrational fear, of welding. Clearly the best course of action would have been to weld again immediately after my incident.

The key lesson here to not be discouraged by a failure, such as this welding incident. It is important to dust yourself off, or in my case heal up from electrocution, and try again. Sometimes we give up on something after receiving negative feedback. Dedication and training are important if we want to succeed in something we enjoy. Don’t take it to heart and give up when people tell you about a lack of ability or talent in a subject. During my career, I was told many times about my lack of ability on the topics of finance and writing. After a few years of resigning myself to failure in those areas, I decided to develop an improvement plan. While I am clearly not an expert in finance and writing, I have worked to develop an average level of competency. When you are given negative feedback, hopefully in a constructive manner, look at it as an opportunity to improve. In fact, someone may have done you a huge favor by pointing out an area of focus for improvement. Once aware of where to concentrate, it is up to you to act to develop an improvement plan. Whether it is taking formal classes or simply watching a video, the learning options are almost limitless. Persistence and determination are often overlooked, but valuable attributes. In our constant quest for improvement, we will occasionally be “bucked off the horse.” Don’t give allow yourself time to develop fears, get right back in the saddle!

Make the most of this day!


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