This one connects to the “Smart” part of Smart, Fit, and Clean. The ability to learn is not something to take for granted. Learning is a skill and it is also a practice. In order to learn, you need:
- A growth mindset. You must possess the mental framework to understand that your life is not a fixed set of conditions, but an ever-changing landscape. You must acknowledge your own ability to change and grow, and you must see the benefit in growth. In my opinion, growth = survival & the ability to thrive, while stagnation = death.
- Observational competence. You’ve got to know how to use your senses: Listening, watching, reading, tracking the flow of information or the steps that make up a given process.
- The courage to take action. To learn how to do something new, you first have to be unafraid to do it for the first time. Like a scientist running an experiment, you need to be able to embark on a new endeavor, to try a new thing.
- The consciousness to reflect. You need to be able to consider in your mind (or on paper, or out loud) what were the intended outcomes of the new thing you tried, and compare those to the actual outcomes.
- Abstract thinking. Once you know you can learn, you’ve made the efforts to know about something you want to learn how to do, you’ve tried doing the thing, and you’ve reflected on how it went, now you need to be able to think about how you might do it better in the future.
- A bit of creativity. The next time you do this new thing, you’re going to do it a bit differently. How can you do it better? Devising new approaches to a given task requires a bit of creative thinking. Yes, doodling in your notes or coming up with rhymed couplets on your walk is actually helpful to the learning process. So is making mistakes.
- Resilience, perseverance, and grit. You’re going to have to do this thing many more times in order to truly “learn” it. Deep learning is not just the knowledge or awareness of a thing, but practice and competence with it. I’m sure you’ve heard about the 10,000 hours that it takes to make an expert. Well, those 10,000 hours included a lot of errors that got worked out the hard way. As the entrepreneurs say, “fail fast and fail often”.
Opportunities to learn are everywhere, and I would even go so far as to say we have a requirement and responsibility to learn at all times. After all, our own survival depends on learning the skills necessary to feed, clothe, and shelter ourselves, as well as the skills to maintain healthy social relationships. Our thriving as people depends on our learning about ourselves, about how we can be our best, and finding a way for the best version of us to get along with everyone else. The next generation depends on us learning how to cope with our constantly changing world, and to pass on the things we’ve learned to them, not just as dry knowledge, but as deep–practiced–learning.
This morning, by 8:30am, I have already practiced continual learning in a number of ways:
- I’ve pushed myself on the rowing machine, practicing a specific target pace, and noting down my observations about the experience.
- Likewise, I’ve challenged myself with handstands, headstand push-ups, and back lever drills, increasing the challenge from last week and thus forcing myself to pay careful attention to the details, while also reflecting on my experience and taking notes.
- I’ve been reading through all my emails about the COVID-19 virus response from banks, business, government organizations, and others who have me on their mailing lists. I’ve read the Governor’s proclamations and processed the effects of that on my businesses.
- I’ve held two client consultations this morning, listening carefully to what my people have to say and learning from them what their priorities are in this challenging time. In my responses (both verbally as a coach and in written form as a programmer of exercise, nutrition, and behavior), I’ve had to refine my practice to respond to the new situation.
- I made some gluten-free flax/date/peanut butter pancakes, a recipe I’ve been practicing for the past couple of weeks. Each time I mix the batter and cook a pancake, I’m learning how to get better results from my mix, pour, and application of heat.
- I just finished watching an instructional video from CrossFit Invictus about Controlled Articular Rotations (CARS). This is something I always called “circles” and thought I knew how to do correctly, but accessing some knowledge from a more experienced practitioner taught me a lot.
- I’m watching the beginning of a video recording of on OPEX Fitness webinar about the differences between health & athletic performance.
If I really analyze it deeply, I am learning in a multitude of different ways at all times on all days. So are you. Keep that growth mindset and keep learning. Remember: Growth = survival & thriving; stagnation = death.
2 thoughts on “Never Stop Learning”