Lessons Learned from Becoming a Learner

Janine Anderson
Posted: December 1, 2014

Recently, I’ve had the experience of becoming a learner all over again. I can only liken it to what it must have been like to ride a bike for the first time — only worse. Where a young child may be open and receptive to new learning because everything is new to them, an adult has likely spent some (or many) years practicing their craft and becoming proficient or even an expert.  Children are open to learning by their very nature. As an adult, the experience left me feeling vulnerable and gutted.

Looking back on the experience, here is what I walked away with:

[Tweet “It takes courage to learn something new.”]

  • It takes courage because you are probably going to suck at it at first. You’re also possibly (if you’re lucky) going to be surrounded by others that have been doing this new thing for a while and don’t suck at it. In fact, they may be experts at said new thing. You are not; you are just the new person sucking really badly. Checking your ego at the door can be a rather humbling experience.
  • Patience and perseverance are a necessity. In today’s society we want more, faster, now. Depending on the situation, you may have to embrace the struggle and wade in it for a while.
  • Environment and expertise make all the difference in the world. Is the environment conducive to positive learning experiences? Are you being coached through this new learning experience? Is the coaching effective? In fact, this may be the determining factor on whether or not you decide to push forward or give up.

[Tweet “Learning something new takes practice — lots and lots and lots of practice. “]

  • You just might fail the first (or second or third) time you try. Do you know what to do when things aren’t going as planned? Do you know what to do if you fail? Do you know how to fail safely? Is failure even an option?
  • You learn something about yourself. Learning something new is sure to expose weaknesses in your abilities and in your character. This exposure leaves you feeling raw, vulnerable, and unsure of yourself. However, given the right circumstances, it can also lead to growth. You just may expand your own capacities beyond your wildest imagination.

So, when was the last time you took a risk and immersed yourself in something new? Something brand new that left you feeling like you left the shore without a raft, something that left you trying your hardest but you took in water anyway? If nothing comes to mind, perhaps you’ve stopped learning, and if you have stopped learning — then are you really in touch with the needs of your own learning audience, whoever that may be?

 featured image by Jonathan Velasquez

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