Marshall Thurber, Business Consultant.
Sometimes when we’re learning something new we feel awkward, very conscious and uncomfortable. We want to be perfect straight away. We might give up (or not even begin!) because we’re not willing to pay the price of putting extra time in to break through the awkwardness.
Success is all about persistence, practice, discipline and sacrifice.
My Dad taught me how to drive. I got my provisional driving license on my 17th Birthday. The day after, I had my first driving lesson.
The first time I sat behind the wheel of a car was an amazing experience. It was a dark January evening and I was so excited. Although I’d never driven before, I’d eagerly watched my Dad drive and learned the theory of driving from the passenger seat.
That night I drove almost perfectly, changing gears with confidence as if I’d been driving for a while. It was amazing! When we arrived home my Dad proudly told my Mum that he thought I was a ‘natural’ and I’d easily pass my test!
After this lesson I thought that driving would be easy.
The next time I got in the car I was crap! For the next month my driving sucked! I was nervous, grinded the gears, mounted the curb and my confidence was soon reduced to zero. Learning to drive was overwhelming it seemed that there was so much to think about and do all at the same time.
I’d NEVER pass my test… I dreaded my lessons.
I was so frustrated. I’d driven well before, WHY couldn’t I just do it again?
I was frightened of making mistakes and compare myself to THAT first lesson when I drove really well – I didn’t want to learn how to drive anymore! The memory of that experience started to destroy my confidence.
Here’s what this experience taught me about learning:
1. Give yourself permission to feel awkward – In order to learn something you have to give yourself permission to do things badly, screw up and be imperfect. Understand in advance that this is an essential part of learning and accept that this will happen sometimes as part of your learning journey. Let go of trying to be perfect and let yourself feel awkward. It’s okay! There’s a kind of innocence about it.
2. Competence = Confidence = Control – You have to pass through the feeling awkward stage before you start to develop some competence. Practice, patience and persistence help you to develop your competence. Competence allows you to feel more confident and feeling confident ultimately allows you to feel in control of the situation. You have to work through all three stages of this cycle and as you continue to learn, these elements become stronger.
3. Create Momentum – You have to be willing to show up on a bad day as well as a good day. You have to keep going despite looking silly or feeling very conscious of how stupid you feel. After a while competence kicks in and the awkwardness falls away. Persistence is the key!
Allow yourself permission to feel awkward…
It can be quite liberating!