Fresh from the experience of learning a new skill this week, I’m buzzing and I wanted to write this blog about getting into your best mindset for learning.
Its important to recognize is that your attitude to learning matters. How often do you say (aloud or to yourself) “I could never do that, I’d never be able to do that” or “I’m rubbish at……..”
Many of us are exposed to the same information and have similar experiences, however not everyone makes the best use of these opportunities. Learning and progress is hindered when we don’t approach it in our most useful frame of mind. Here are 5 mindset hacks to help you to overcome your barriers to learning.
1. Don’t write yourself off
This week I’ve been to gymnastics. That’s right I’m nearly 40 years of age and I’ve started going to gymnastics. The usual response when I invite others is a snigger and then, “No, I can’t, I’m rubbish at it.”
In my opinion, what better reason to go and learn? Of course, it’s got to be something of interest to you, but how rich is your life if you only do the things which you are good at? How boring is that? How does that way of thinking and living develop your character and your resilience? One thing it certainly does it fix your mindset.
For the record, I’m not great at gymnastics yet either, I can just about do a cartwheel and some other specific skills because I have spent hours practicing them. I get frustrated like everyone else, yet I don’t give myself a hard time by calling myself rubbish. Labelling yourself like that is limiting and disempowering. You are learning and that’s why coaches are on hand to assist you, trust them.
Think about where in life you have been writing yourself off, and who could help you to improve your mindset in relation to this?
2. Calm your ego
Let’s be clear, when you are learning something new you are unlikely to look cool. (Okay so we all have that annoying friend who picks skills up first time but lets forget about them.) You will get it wrong, you may stumble and you will need to ask for help. Your ego may prevent you from seeking help, and I see many people choosing to stay stuck rather than reaching out. Asking for help takes strength and courage and is a great exercise for the ego. Beyond the expert coach there is so much we can learn from everyone around us regardless of their age, experience and qualifications.
During the process of learning, you may look silly and someone might even take a photo or video of it and post it on social media! So what? Why does this matter so much? Don’t let your ego get in the way of you learning something that is of interest and importance to you. Be a great role model and inspire others whose ego or confidence is holding them back. Be a great example to your children. A great way to stop feeling self-conscious about learning or making mistakes is to be fully engaged and focused on what you are doing. Unsurprisingly, this is the path to mastery. I hope that my commitment to learning new skills, approach to coaching and doing business differently inspires others to do things in their own way too.
3.Give yourself permission to get it wrong
This seems obvious, but not doing this holds so many people back. After hours of practicing this skill I had recently been developing, it’s a bit hit and miss and I haven’t landed the move yet- let alone mastered it. And now, I’m practicing in front of people. In such situations – be it public speaking, sales or competitions, we are suddenly visible and leave ourselves vulnerable and we feel like we are being judged. Anyway, I started to feel this mental pressure, which was creating tension in my mind; I like competition, but this felt like self-imposed, unhelpful pressure. Recognising this, I told myself that I had already made a great deal of progress and it didn’t matter if I didn’t land the move, or get it perfect today, because I am committed to it now and I would nail it by the end of the month. As soon as I let myself off the hook I felt better, got in flow and it happened. This little trick on myself worked. Think about situations in which you could use this trick increase your performance.
In an everyday context, think about how you could apply this technique to help in your next presentation at work, in an exam or interview situation, in your driving test or when pitching your business? Of course you will want to nail these things right now. Everyone wants to pass exams and get high grades first time, but the amount of pressure we put on ourselves can cause anxiety, crippling our performance and inhibiting our long-term success. You can break this cycle and gain more enjoyment in life starting now, if you are motivated to.
4. Know your fears
Fear is hidden behind many things. Fear can help us to make good decisions and it keeps us alive, it can be exciting and it can also hold us back. We don’t always recognise that fear has been behind our lack of progress, it takes may shapes and forms. We can even fear success because of what that might mean for us in terms of new challenges, change and the unknown.
I wouldn’t say that I am an anxious or fearful person, but there’s no doubt learning at height increases the risk of injury. If I’m honest I don’t like heights- that is why I try to challenge myself with rope climbs at least once a week. For the record, I don’t like needles either but I don’t think many people love injections- its just that they’ve had to have them and they’ve learned to get on with it. They seek help and take responsibility to manage their emotional state.
Recently, I had a little scare at height, it shock me and it was tough to get back up and go again- especially as my confidence was low having just returned from an injury which limited me for 4 months. This experience reminded me of two lessons; firstly, you’ve got to have the courage to get back on the horse as soon as possible so as not to overthink things and build up barriers in your head. Secondly, you have the opportunity to learn from your scares and stumbles and apply your insights immediately. Metaphorically, you can stamp down that new neurological pathway before you build a protective wall around it.
In sport, please remember that sometimes this means recognising your current level of competency, listening to your coach and reducing the challenge or making easier modifications. It’s always important to take steps to ensure safety and minimise risk. What happens so often is that people give up completely and they never attempt to do things once they have failed or gotten bruised. This is a habit which you may want to break.
Think about how this might apply in other areas of life. Become aware of your fears and what activities you avoid – in order to protect yourself. If teaching/ coaching/ speaking scares you but it has become part of your job or is something that you want to do, start by presenting to smaller groups. Having the awareness to know and understand your fears will help you to manage and move past them.
5. Grit and perseverance.
How soon do you quit? Do any of the above reasons feel so hard to overcome that you give up? Grit is a trait, which is about digging in when things get tough; it’s about not giving up. Grit is about bouncing back from setbacks, having the spirit, commitment and tenacity to succeed.
If you are so concerned with your ego and how others perceive you this will not be helpful because you cannot control what other people think. When we ‘fail’ we get it wrong, or hurt ourselves, it takes grit, guts and some big growth mindset thinking to get back up and go again. It helps to have positive people around you too- so hang out with people and in places where the energy is plentiful! As a coach, I aim to cultivate these traits in all who I work with. All of this stuff will develop your character and your long-term resilience.
Thanks for reading, now get cracking on the questions in this blog and let me know how you are using these mindset hacks to overcome your barriers to achieving greater fulfilment in your life. Its always good to know how you are using this content and it motives me to keep writing. Cheers Em 🙂