We dread learning because it is messy. We feel inadequate and stupid. We are embarrassed about how long it is taking us to learn a skill. This wobbling is a sign that you are getting better at the skill. This wobbling is your SUPERPOWER.
On my fifth birthday I received a bicycle. I did not know how to ride a cycle. My mother noticed my reluctance to try riding the cycle. I had seen my friends wobble and shake as they tried to balance themselves. I did not want to get hurt or feel like a wobbly fool. " There are training wheels. There is no way you will fall."
Some children in the neighbourhood asked me if they could ride my new cycle. The thought of sharing my new bike with them was unbearable. I refused. After a week of dithering, I mustered up enough courage to give it a shot only to discover that the training wheels were missing from my new cycle. The gangs of my neighbourhood had taken revenge. Without the training wheels I could not ride my cycle. Peace prevailed when I agreed to let them ride the cycle and they in turn would support me as I discovered the superpower called wobbling.
wobbling: to move unsteadily from side to side.
Wobbliness is what babies enjoy
Babies are not worried about wobbling. They fall each time they try to take a step. They graze their knees, they get hurt and they continue. But what is even more impressive is that nobody judges them for failing. Everyone seems to applaud and admire the wobbling learner. Babies know that. Yet, it is the same wobbliness that adults dread. They fear that people will laugh at them when they fall.
Skills or confidence - what is more important
Do you have an idea that you have not acted upon? Most of us have. My friend Joshua and I host a show on Clubhouse every Saturday at 6:45pm IST. It is called The Doing Show. We explore the fears that keep people from doing something. We also explore hacks and learn from each other's successes and failures. Here are some interesting things we learnt
Skills and confidence are like the two wheels of the cycle. You need both.
If you have a bachelor's degree in economics and another one in physics, can you build a rocket? Yes. Elon Musk did just that simply reading books. Other subjects are far easier.
Spending ten minutes a day learning about a topic will put you in the league of the most knowledgeable people.
But building the skill is not enough. You need to stay wobbly if you want to stay ahead. Being wobbly is a sign of a learner.
How to wobble and keep learning
- Build a Private Stage:Build a "private stage" where you can practice the skill. That creates a safe space when you can build a reasonable level of proficiency. Until you get to have at least an average level of proficiency, do not seek feedback. True feedback will hurt and fake praise does not motivate.
- Remove training wheels: Having training wheels does NOT help you learn to ride a bicycle. (Thank you to whoever removed them from my first bicycle). The training wheels give you a false sense of confidence. They prevent you from experiencing the superpower you have - wobbling.
- Learn from a peer: In the early days of learning a skill, try to learn from a peer who may have started some time ahead of you. A senior in college can be a better teacher for the junior than an expert. To learn a skill, the teacher needs to be able to deconstruct the skill into bite size chunks to make it easy for the learner.
Stop asking, "Am I good enough" - even when you wobble
A seasoned guitarist will tell you that there are plenty of songs you can play by simply learning three chords. But every beginner who has learned these three chords does not feel confident enough to play before others. The big hurdle to overcome is the question, "Am I good enough?"
Here are some ideas I noted down during the chat on how to feel confident enough.
1.Master of 20%
Artists will tell you that only 20% of the lines in a painting convey most of the idea. So if you learn the 20% well, you can get started. Authors often leave out just enough information that lets the reader stay engaged as they figure it out. Leaving out the right amount of information engages the viewer. Try it.
2. Pursue Randomness
Try out new skills and meet people from different fields. The random connections and the new ideas from people often create the confidence for you to get started.
"The most interesting opportunities tend to emerge on edges of various types. It could be demographic edges, as with younger generations; geographic edges, such as in developing economies; or technology edges – new generations of technologies."
- John Hagel
3. Wobbling creates the skill
Fear of failure is a learnt skill. Babies are unafraid to try out everything. From learning to walk, read, talk to strangers and build life skills, they pursue a packed day. That is because they are leveraging the superpower of wobbling.
Keeping the mindset of a beginner is the right balance of being curious enough to try what they have never done before and be confident enough to wobble long enough to learn it.
As soon as the babies get better at one thing, they start learning the next one. If they are getting better at walking, they want to try to run. And they want to work at learning some languages. They want to learn how to read and draw and ... You too were fearless as a baby. You have learnt fear. Now it is time to unlearn it.
Work with a coach who can make you feel optimistic and hopeful. Your coach does not need to be the best at what he or she is coaching you to do. Roger Federer has a coach, who is certainly not the number one tennis player. The coach has to work with the person - not the problem.
The final word
Wobbling is your superpower. As long as you are comfortable trying out your superpower every day, you will keep getting better.
If you want to be a painter, start painting. Or do you want to keep collecting paintbrushes and never paint a canvas?
Join Joshua and me at 6:45pm IST next Saturday on Clubhouse and let us explore your ideas in The Doing Show. And do remember to use your SUPERPOWER - stay wobbly.
If you liked the idea, do share it with your friends and do leave me a comment.
If you have a question, please add it there and I will answer it.
Want to invite me to work with you or your organization? Email me at email@example.com
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