Learning new skills is a challenge for many of us. The very first hurdle is our belief system: fixed mindset or growth mindset. If we have a fixed mindset, it suggests that we cannot learn new skills and have to make do with what we have naturally. On the other hand, there is a lot more room for hope if we have a growth mindset - this suggests that we believe skills can be learnt and we can learn them.
The second challenge is creating habits that make learning a consistent practice.
Doing any task with repetition is key to improving, and this requires habit. A roadblock for many people is their misguided understanding that they need ‘talent’ to learn anything, along with bucketfuls of willpower. This train of thought tiptoes on the verge of the 'Nature versus Nurture' discussion (i.e. are experts born or created?). Well, if you have natural potential, why not also nurture it? And if you don’t, why not work on it?
The issue with willpower is that it doesn’t last. The fitness industry knows this, and it makes a concerted effort to exploit it every January with special offers on gym memberships. However, habits do last...
Shaolin monks have habits. They practice their Kung Fu moves as slowly as possible until the movements are perfect; they will only increase the speed when they have mastered the moves perfectly. Classically trained musicians use a similar technique - they play a piece of music as slowly as possible to make sure that every note is correct - never increasing the tempo until they can perform the piece slowly and correctly first.
Apparently, a habit takes 21 consecutive days to create. So then, what stops us?
Perhaps it’s our modern need to have everything we want in an instant? Technology, with its speed and instant results, seems to give us the impression that everything is immediate or should be. Or maybe we are more impatient than previous generations?
If you want to see big improvements, you must battle impatience, practise slowly and consistently - then measure your results over the coming weeks and months. That's my plan anyway...