Who remembers paper coloring books with pages filled with nothing but numbers? In order to see the whole picture, you start with a pencil or crayon at number 1, and draw a line connecting number 1 to number 2, number 2 to number 3, and so on, until all the numbers connect to produce a recognizable picture.
Or Hang Man? Nothing but empty spaces where letters should be, eventually form a complete word or phrase.
Learning something new can be like Connect the Dots and Hang Man. In the beginning there is nothing-just an empty page with numbers and lines-empty space on a page. In order to get results, you must first make a decision to start at the beginning, and then you have to keep going, to have faith that your next move is the right one, even though you cannot see the whole picture or word in front of you.
You may start slowly at first, cautiously and carefully, moving from one word or number to the next, until you get that feeling that you are going in the right direction. With gaining confidence you proceed cautiously, until at last you recognize enough of the picture, or see enough of the word or phrase to feel truly confident and comfortable moving along to finish the puzzle.
Learning something new first requires deciding to take a risk and making the choice, even knowing you do not have all the answers, and you are going to make mistakes.
Having taken the risk to learn something new, I can say I am making my way with a little more confidence and clarity toward completing the puzzle. I do not like making mistakes, so taking a risk and deciding to try something new in the first place for me is huge. Moving to a new gym and trainer with a new philosophy and new moves adds up to a whole lot of newness and opportunites to make mistakes.
Learning something new requires patience, perseverence, and practice, even when you are tired, frustrated and feel like giving up.
It has been 3 months. Soon I will stop counting, but not yet. I have had a couple bumps in the road and lots of questions-all of which have been smoothed out and answered. It is so important if you are working with new learners to understand the learning process and to get to know your student to be able to coach them toward confidence and to provide opportunities for small successes along the way. Coaching-like teaching-is an art. It is difficult to describe exactly what makes a good coach, but being able to get a student to persevere in spite of obstacles is huge.
In order to learn something new, the task or knowledge should be broken down into steps-with strategies to teach and learn each step, until all of the pieces can be put together to achieve the final goal or outcome.
Benchmarks, goals, skills and strategies. Understanding the goal, defining the skills needed to accomplish the goal, and determining strategies to help teach the skill. That is what it is all about. Not every strategy works for every learner; a good coach will find a strategy that works for the student in front of them; it is not a one size fits all approach. I have been fortunate to have worked with trainers and coaches who have understood this principle.
And finally, the learning never ends. Just like Connect the Dots, Hang Man, Crossword Puzzles, and Sudoku, there is always a new level to master.
Four months ago I was bored, everything seemed easy, nothing seemed to have a purpose, I could not see the forest for the trees, so to speak.
It was not what I was doing at the gym, it was how I was doing it.
I was just going through the motions with no focus or emphasis on quality of movement. I now know nothing is easy. Nothing. Weight might seem light or heavy-but it is all relative to the purpose of the lift and the movement.
I like the analogy of Leveling Up. I am now in a positive learning environment that honors the learner, where every move matters, and the overarching goal is positive. It was time to Level Up.