I recorded a lot of podcasts in the context of work on his future book, “Ultrabusy” (Ultralearning). One of the recurring themes that I noted in conversations, is that people’s attitude to learning leads to results.
Yes, the mind, talent, teachers, and schools – all that matters.
But if you feel that you can learn something too difficult, scary or interesting enough – none of these things will not help you.
People who are not able to learn languages, in the vast majority of cases do not even try to do it. People who “can’t” learn math, programming, business, marketing, or dancing – they never even tried to do it seriously.
The learning process is frustrating
This attitude difficult to accept. “Do these people not understand that you can learn something, if persistent and use the right approach?”
But feelings are not rational, therefore, to encourage people to learn difficult things – a waste of time. If you feel that you can’t learn math, French, or Samba – nothing will change.
The truth is, I had my moments of doubt and frustration, and even not so long ago.
In January of last year, I began to learn to dance salsa with my wife. She danced for many years, but have never worked professionally, and I only did it a few times.
Immediately on the first classes, an overwhelming sense could be stated as: “I hate it”. Not because I don’t believe to be able to dance, salsa or cool, but because I see myself in the mirror. My steps are not synchronized. I do not get into a rhythm. When I am dancing with a partner, I forget the sequence of movements if you turn to the next.
I know it’s just the barrier of disappointment. I know that as soon as I pass the beginner level (which inevitably will happen when a sufficient amount of practice), I’ll start to enjoy it. If I spent enough time, I would like to do.
But the brain sees things differently, the intuitive feeling is: “you’re not good at it, you should stop right now and stop embarrassing yourself.”
How to change your perception of learning?
There are several approaches that can be used to overcome such learning difficulties:
Ultrabusy works well, because it allows to overcome the barrier of frustration in a shorter period of time. To learn a foreign language is stressful, but the stress lasts for a couple of weeks, not a couple of years, as in traditional classes.
Due to the fact that stress in short, it is easier to overcome compared to the non-stop sense of emotional frustration that you feel when the skill has not yet emerged.
2. Avoid comparisons
My feelings about the salsa was mostly caused by other members of your study group. They danced better than me. Whenever we, as human beings, we feel a comparative disadvantage, our brain immediately tries to avoid using this skill.
A simple way to avoid this problem is to put yourself in situations that do not involve comparisons.
Private lessons immediately eliminate the feeling of “I’m the worst in the class”. It also eliminates the danger of psychological relaxation – “I’m the best in the class”, which can affect students with high scores.
Even the structuring of intense and unusual project often helps to avoid this problem. When I participated in the MIT Challenge, I never felt ill, experiencing difficulties with concepts or ideas, because no one else has addressed these issues, so there were no expectations.
3. Take the frustration
“I hate it” is not a feeling, but a suggestion. You mentally say in response to certain events occurring in your environment. However, it should be recognized that this is not a single experience, but several individual occurring in a continuous mode:
- You notice that you are doing something bad
- You notice that the other can see that you are doing something bad
- You feel embarrassed and start to feel bad
- You feel you need to escape or stay.
- You say to yourself, “I hate it”.
This train of thought, with which you can go to any stop you choose just ride it to the end station. If you remember this, you can send it to other tracks.
For example, the response might be: “don’t worry, the training involves overcoming one’s imperfection, that’s why I’m here”.
Or if you start to feel embarrassed, you can say: “Well, if people think I’m bad at this. While I don’t hurt anyone and try my best, no one will expect me in this matter”.
When you feel you need to escape, you tell yourself: “let’s just try it a little longer”?
Upon closer examination the feeling of frustration becomes a potential space for new experiences. Do you understand how your own feelings hinder you in a limited view of life. The pain that you experience becomes a moment of potential liberation, because with it you can rewrite the story of who you are.
Salsa, dancing, and overcoming disappointment
I’m still not very good at salsa. But dance better. Moments when I say, “I hate it”, are much more rare now, often sounds like “Hey, this is pretty fun”. I know if to move forward, “quite fun” will become “amazing and life-affirming”, if you will be able to continue working a little longer.
Training and ultrabusy for me it seems the cultivation of these amazing, life-affirming moments. When you make progress in what previously seemed impossible for you, your world becomes a little bit more. This empowerment is more than just achieving the goal, is the source of happiness itself.