Honor the Struggle: The Process of Learning
Are you frustrated when you try to learn something new? Does the process of learning perhaps even scare you just a bit? Adult learners often share with me their frustration with learning new skills. They describe a feeling in the pit of their stomach that often keeps them awake at night, telling them they are uncomfortable with learning this new skill because they have not yet mastered what is required. They are imperfect, they make mistakes, and they simply do not like the process of studying new skills. Learning is more difficult than they might have thought, and they are afraid they may not be successful. As a result, they may be fearful because of being out of their comfort zone for any amount of time.
Frequently, our fear stems from what others may think of us as we are learning. We do not want others to see us vulnerable or uncertain, do we? Instead, we want to be seen as confident and knowledgeable, expert leaders in our field. We may believe that anything less than this level of perfection is a sign of weakness. Rest assured, that if you feel scared in any way as a result of the learning process, know that you are not alone my friend. Learning to be comfortable with this ambiguity as the process unfolds is important to understand. This process is simply part of the journey.
Trust the Process
No one is perfect. Few ever master any skill flawlessly the very first time. The only way we learn is to continue to trust in our abilities and in the process of the learning journey as we continue to practice over and over until we get it right—all the while we master our fears as we move through the discomfort we may feel along the way. Our first step is to trust the process. We will need to feel the fear, but continue forward so that this fear will not stop us. One day, we will master the skills we seek—through persistence and practice. We need to simply acknowledge that this feeling we experience while acquiring new skills is only temporary. This uncomfortable feeling will go away as our confidence improves and as our skills improve. When we stay true to our goals and honor the struggle of the learning process, we will eventually master the desired skills.
Our second step is to simply breathe. Take a deep breath and tell yourself that everything will be ok. Have faith in your abilities. Trust yourself. Tell yourself YOU CAN DO THIS! We can learn to be comfortable with the process as we move forward step-by-step. Rest assured that it is ok not to be perfect during the process, at least for a little while. Learning takes time, practice, and especially patience.
Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway
Many adult learners stop too soon in the learning process. If they cannot master a new skill quickly, they simply give up and stop trying. Why? They don’t want others to think less of them in any way or perceive they their lack of mastery is in some way a sign of weakness. Have you felt this way? How does one get through this process then you may ask? First, we must learn to feel the fear and do it anyway—whatever the ‘it’ may be. We will never master these skills, if we cannot acknowledge that being uncomfortable is simply part of the learning process, at least for a little while.
Grow Through the Process
Let me invite you to honor this struggle when learning anything new. The path for the adult learner is paved with curiosity and wonder. There is so much for us to learn in the world! Learning to be patient while expanding our comfort zone is how we grow through this process. Perhaps we can find a mentor or coach to help move us through the process more quickly. Perhaps a friend will be willing to listen to our frustrations. Perhaps we might try meditation to simply learn to breathe. We live in a very fast paced world that often doesn’t seem to find value in slowing down to take the time to learn. Learning is not a perfect process. Often we must slow down and learn to live in this place of struggle while we study and train. Many skills simply take time and practice.
We must not let the fear of being awkward or perhaps clumsy as we first begin stop us. Eventually your skills will become stronger as will your confidence. Remember anything is easy once we know how. Our path toward discovery may be blurry for a little while. This is normal and to be expected. Our role is simply to stay the course and honor our struggle. We must trust the process and trust ourselves as we proceed through the learning process. Remember anything worth learning is worth the efforts to get there.
Dr. Cheryl Lentz
*Join us for our Spring 2013 Publication of the award winning series: The Refractive Thinker: Volume II: Research Methodology, 3rd Edition. Details may be found here at http://www.lentzleadership.com