Why do we underestimate what it takes to learn?

One of the things I find saddest when working with coaching clients or delivering leadership development is both how hard we are on ourselves when we don’t immediately become deeply competent at something and how little work we put into becoming competent! As Seth Godin says – its like riding a bike – “You learn by doing it. Actually, by not doing it. You learn by doing it wrong, by falling off, by getting back on, by doing it again.”

To learn something new, we need to practice, get it right, get it wrong, see where we are progressing and where we’ve still got to go. We need to do this over and over again. In the beginning we will ‘fall off the bike’ – that is part of the process. We might get grazed – but if we want to ‘learn how to ride’ we need to keep getting on, again and again until it is second nature.

Too often I hear people say ‘but it doesn’t feel authentic’ – no, of course it doesn’t! Did it feel ‘authentic’ when you started riding a bike – no it didn’t (maybe unless you are Chris Froome?). It won’t feel authentic until you’ve really practiced and practiced – then it becomes part of who we are, it is in our bodies and becomes a habitual response. Waiting for something to feel authentic before you give it a try is a tried and tested recipe to avoid change and learning. Start before you are ready.

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