Have you ever wanted to learn a new skill, but find yourself getting discouraged?
The reason for your frustration is that you have thwarted expectations. You want to be good at it right from the beginning, but get upset with yourself when you struggle with it.
The good news is that you can minimize your frustration by simply understanding the step-by-step process your mind goes through whenever you’re trying to do something completely new.
These steps work the same way for everybody, no matter your age, education, or natural abilities.
Here, in order, are the exact steps to learning any new skill. Instead of being overly technical, I’ve simplified this process down to basic everyday language.
This is not philosophical. Rather, it’s a plain-spoken explanation that everyone should be able to relate to, according to their own experiences.
Step One: YOU’RE LOUSY
Yes, I know that may sound harsh, or even funny. But the simple truth is that when you begin anything new, you’re going to be terrible at it.
Accept it. Understand it. Deal with it. But, most importantly, move past it. Just keep going. Vow to yourself that you’ll improve. Do that, and you will get better.
Step Two: YOU’RE FAIR
Once you’ve gotten a little experience under your belt, you’ll start to see some improvement. But you still won’t be very good. You’ll only be fair at it. It’ll still be a struggle. You’ll experience as much failure as you do success.
Step Three: YOU’RE PRETTY GOOD
You’re still not good, but you’re getting there. You are beginning to see some real improvement. You gain confidence. You see the light.
Step Four: YOU’RE GOOD
Now you’ve got it. You know what you’re doing. You’ve gotten good. The process has become part of you. Now is the time to keep going and sharpen your skills.
Step Five: YOU’RE REALLY GOOD
Your persistence has paid off. You’ve gotten really good. You’re operating at a subconscious level. You’re flying on auto-pilot. Others are noticing what you’re able to do and are impressed by it.
Step Six: YOU’RE GREAT
If you are really, really good, for a very long time, then it’s possible that others may consider you to be great. This takes a good bit of time, effort, and dedication. No slacking off when you start to set records.
You have “kept the pedal to the metal” and poured your heart and soul into getting results. You’ve continued to stay really good for so long that you’ve made it impossible for anyone who’s been keeping track to ignore your accomplishments.
The only way to gain a skill is with continuous repetition and also receiving guidance from someone who knows how to do it better than you.
You can’t expect to do something once, or even a few times, and expect to be good at it. It is also extremely rare to gain a skill when you have nobody to help you. Life just doesn’t work like that.
Think of riding a bicycle. Nobody is born knowing how to ride a 2-wheeler.
Remember back to when you first learned to ride, or perhaps to when you taught your child or grandchild.
At the beginning you’re apprehensive; maybe even a little scared. But as a small child, you also had a strong urge to ride. You saw other kids doing it, and you wanted to do it too.
You started out being very wobbly. Perhaps you had a parent or an older brother or sister there to encourage you and give you a push to get you started. You might have fallen down and even skinned your knee.
Yes. You were willing to put up with pain, fear, and even a bloody knee, to learn this new skill.
At first, you still weren’t very good, but at least you could ride down the block. Eventually, with practice, you got better. You got to the point where you were able to ride your bike without having to think about it very much. You just hopped on and rode. You got pretty good.
Some people, who get really good, take it to extremes and join bicycle teams and do competitive racing.
A few of them become so good that they devote their lives to it, competing on the world stage, in events like the Tour de France.
The bottom line is that every single one of those professionals began as an insecure newbie, who had to start from scratch.
As a parent, I taught the “6 Steps” to my daughter when she was still very little.
I recall one evening she came to me as I was sitting in my big chair watching TV and asked me if I would listen to her sing.
When she finished her song, she asked a question that made me realize just how well she understood my lesson.
She said: “Daddy, what step am I on?”
I was surprised and impressed, but most of all I was proud. SHE GOT IT.
The “6 Steps” made sense to her.
I answered her this way. I told her that many of her notes were pretty good. Some were really good, but a few were only fair and they needed work.
It was very easy for her to accept that feedback. She had a feeling of accomplishment and also a path for improvement.
Fast-forward 12 years… in high school she fronted her own rock band and performed at a number of high-profile public venues, playing before hundreds of people.
Say it with me: “Repetition Is The Mother Of Learning.” “Repetition Is The Mother Of Learning.” “Repetition Is The Mother Of Learning.”
Repetition is ___? YES. The MOTHER of learning.
Skill can and will only happen when you ignore and accept the discomfort of getting started. Realize that being lousy at the beginning is just part of the learning process and not to worry about it. Don’t get down on yourself.
Plow through the discomfort. Put the image of your goal in your mind and clearly see it, the same way you did when you learned to ride a bike.
You can learn everything and anything you want if you understand the “6 Steps” and simply accept them.
The good news is that most things you learn as an adult don’t come with the risk of getting a skinned knee or falling into the sticker bushes. LOL.
About Matt DiMaio…
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