The surprising truth about learning new skills

Learning a new skill often strips us bare! makes us vulnerable makes us super aware of how little we know – and no one likes that feeling! And from learning a new skill comes a greater understanding of ourselves. It doesn’t matter how we learn, whether from YouTube or struggling on our own at home with (or without) a manual, it is the process that gives us several pointers.

We become vulnerable. We know what we know and when we step into the unknown, there might as be well Dragons lurking. Elements which are unfamiliar take on a new dimension of enormous size and insurmountable difficulty, covered head to toe in unfathomable language and instructions that even Hermione Grainger would struggle to understand and implement.

We become blind to simple on-screen instructions, which, on a normal day in normal circumstances wouldn’t faze us. “What do you mean there’s already an account in that name?” we cry or “why won’t you just xxxxxxxxx-well work” we despair, reminding ourselves “Everyone says this is easy – so it’s got to be me!” Eventually coming to the conclusion “I hate this computer” and reaching for the gin/tea/tv remote.

Looking at this rationally (after gin/tea/a tv break or whatever you do to calm and gather yourself) learning a new skill, especially if it’s a computer/internet-related skill for your business or work, is an adventure into the unknown. You know where you want to end up. You know others have done it so you must be able to. But you don’t always have all the information to set yourself realistic expectations. You decide it cannot be that difficult so expect to be able to complete a task in no time flat, just like the people on the advert / video/ marketing material say they did.

Let’s do some myth-busting.

Myth Number 1 – It will take no time at all.

Despite what the advertising message tells you, if you’re starting something from scratch, it’s going to take time to figure it out. There will be elements you perhaps haven’t thought of. You will be wary and taking it slowly and what may be obvious to the person who wrote the instructions may not be obvious to you. So draw a deep breath and be prepared to allow yourself more time – 2 or 3 attempts at the “thing”. It ALWAYS takes longer than you think.

Myth Number 2 – Everyone else can do it so if I cannot, it must be me

Not at all. The “everyone else” who you now see being able to do the thing, probably went through the heartache and frustration you’re going through before they truly mastered it. They’re just not letting on. And there will be lots of others who tried and gave up. but, of course, you’re not going to see them. So your choice, ask for help, or persevere (and then, if you’re still stuck, ask for help). It depends how badly you want the skill/ end result of whatever it is that you’re learning.

Myth Number 3 – Paying someone else to help / do it for you, is giving in, a sign of failure!

No, it’s not. Think back to a time when someone pointed something out to you, and you said”Oh – yes! It’s so obvious!” Well, it wasn’t until they pointed it out, but was after they’d done so. Well, what would that be worth in terms of cost vs saving time/ money/ frustration/ being blocked from moving forwards? Become realistic and play fair with yourself. If the lack of a skill or knowledge on how to use a tool is preventing you from moving forwards, ASK for HELP. If you are not moving forwards, you are moving backwards. Do not dig yourself into a deeper and deeper hole of frustration, Stop! Lift your head up and ask for help. Remember, that once you get through the blockage, you’ll be flying along on your adventure. Everyone needs a helping hand once in a while.

And so what do we learn about ourselves as we learn new tricks and new software to help us build our business? It’s not easy.

We’ve almost forgotten how to learn. We don’t remember learning to walk, or hold a knife and fork, and yet I bet we didn’t succeed at those right away. And there’d have been some messy moments. But we persevered.

And learning a new skill for our business and life needs EITHER that level of dedication OR a realistic appraisal of time vs reward and getting someone to do it for / with us – someone held your hand while you were learning to walk.

It’s not always obvious, but our strength comes from our ability to work collaboratively and ask for help and support. Floundering doesn’t help anyone. Learning is a process. And I would bet money (yes, real money) that you’ll be the first to offer support to those coming after you in the same situation.

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