Learning by doing…

Great Pond, Windsor

Learning by doing is one of my favourite subjects! Think back to the last time you wanted to build a new habit, speak up in a meeting, listen more or behave differently under stress. As you cast your mind back, what did you do to help you prepare? what did you do in the moment as you felt your familiar pattern start to kick in? Was it easier than you expected or harder?

Personally, I find it hard to change my behaviour in the moment and I put in a lot of thinking and practice to help me. Yet, why do we so often imagine that our behaviour will change because we read a book or watched a video rather than rolling up our sleeves and having a try? Why do we imagine it will be easy? Or that we will master this new approach after one trial run?

A recent participant on a leadership programme told me “I tried, but it just didn’t feel authentic“. After some gentle coaching we found that the barrier wasn’t really that it didn’t feel authentic (an extremely high bar for first go!), it was that it felt clunky, far from comfortable and challenging. In my experience, these misaligned expectations are one of the greatest impediments to change. If we knew that it was tricky, prepared ourselves to succeed (maybe rehearsing with a coach), realistically judged our progress and then celebrated our success – what might be possible instead?

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