“We’d rather be rather stuck than screwed.” In other words, we’d rather play it small and keep on keeping on, than change lanes, change course and change direction. Below are the seven tips to handle your dreaded learning curve. Keep reading.
This excellent quote is from the incisive, illuminating book, one of my favourite reads from 2020, Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans.
Among other things, the book got me thinking about learning. About the attention (or lack) that we pay to it. We’d rather stay stuck than learn how to get out of whatever ‘brand’ of quicksand we find ourselves in. Instead, we tend to do more of whatever it is that isn’t working.
We are great pretenders … If I just try once more, it’ll work this time. Meanwhile, this is actually the 100th time we’ve tried the same strategy that hasn’t worked.
So how do we get out of the quagmire?
One of the (many) blocks for prioritizing learning is not making time and space for the learning curve.
It’s hard to pull our heads up out of the sand and make room for learning. After all, learning means change.
So why do we stay in the ‘stuck rather than screwed’ lane instead of merging into the learning lane?
It can be easier to absorb the pinpricks of frustration, and suck up exasperation than spend some time in the Covey quadrant of important but not urgent. In other words, we stay stuck. We put out non-important fires, and we waste time.
So what’s a beleaguered human to do?
Make time and space for the learning curve, that awkward space where we’re struggling to apply what we’ve learned and become proficient.
Here are seven tips for handling the learning curve.
- Expect the learning curve. Don’t get caught off guard. Signing up for a course is one thing, making time to practice and implement your learning is another. It’s going to take some time to become proficient, so give yourself a break and plan for the learning curve.
- Don’t expect perfection, expect to practice. Reframe learning as time to try stuff, to play, to experiment and have some fun.
- Look at your motivation for learning and amp it up if need be. Be proactive about what specifically motivates you to learn.
- Teach someone else. One of the best ways to ride the learning curve is to teach someone else what you’ve learned. That way you’re helping a colleague or a friend as well as yourself.
- Record your learning in ways that work for you. Take notes (on paper or electronically), make an audio recording, doodle … whatever works best for you. Check out the learning resource worksheet I include below – play your “H.A.R.P.”
- Make micro-goals. Make some goals to implement your learning and then cut them in half. Go slowly, dear one, like my friend’s advice when I was starting to meditate.
- Take time to celebrate. Yes, celebrate. We so often rush from one checked-off item on the to-do list to the next that we don’t make time to savour having climbed the learning curve. Because you know you have right? You’ve accomplished SO much in this global pandemic, the most trying of times.
Old ways of thinking and doing aren’t going to dig us out of pressing social challenges. We desperately need learning and lots of it. And even more than that, we need to USE our learning. And to do that, we need to have patience with the learning curve.
Learning and using our learning takes patience and time. You can master your own learning curve by applying one or more of the seven tips above: expect it, but don’t expect perfection, examine your motivation, teach someone else, record your learning in ways that work for you, make micro goals and take time to celebrate. We’ll all be better off for it.
Now go on and learn, laugh and lead
- Oddly we don’t focus much on how we learn. In order to master your learning curve, spend some time focusing on what kind of learning environment works best for you. Find out here with my quick survey.
- Don’t get stuck on the learning curve like these hilarious stuck animals. My favourites are the dog stuck at 0:32 and the dog stuck on the dog (?!) at 2:40
- Help yourself with your learning curve by using my downloadable H.A.R.P. worksheet
P.S. Want to receive invitations to my monthly Learning and Development Roundtables where I give free workshops on all things learning related? Easy peasy. Sign up here.