HOW TO LEARN NEW SKILLS THE EASY WAY

IT IS AS­TOUND­ING how many peo­ple strug­gle to learn some­thing new. But, just like a tod­dler start­ing to walk, we are all ca­pa­ble of mas­ter­ing new skills if we go about it the right way. Pan­cho Mehro­tra of Fron­tier Per­for­mance ex­plains.

Elite Agent - - CONTENTS - Pan­cho Mehro­tra

Ihave of­ten seen train­ers get­ting peo­ple en­thu­si­as­ti­cally in­volved in the train­ing, yet when these peo­ple leave the sem­i­nar they fall back into their old habits al­most im­me­di­ately, de­spite having the best in­ten­tions. That’s be­cause peo­ple are of­ten in the right mind­set when they start to learn some­thing new and are open to it; then sud­denly, as if some­one has flicked a switch, they turn off and be­come re­sis­tant to what they are learn­ing without even be­ing aware that this has hap­pened.

In fact, as hu­mans we of­ten tell our­selves we are open to learn­ing, but the mo­ment learn­ing some­thing new be­comes dif­fi­cult we shut down.

Why does this hap­pen? How can we stop it? To un­der­stand why we strug­gle to master some­thing new, we need to un­der­stand how we learn. You may have heard of the four stages to learn­ing. They are:

1. Un­con­scious in­com­pe­tence: ‘I don’t know what I don’t know’

2. Con­scious in­com­pe­tence: ‘I know about it but I don’t know how to do it’

3. Con­scious com­pe­tence: ‘I now know it and do it de­lib­er­ately when I need to’

4. Un­con­scious com­pe­tence: ‘I know it and do it au­to­mat­i­cally’

Think about the time you first learnt to drive: how ex­cited you were, and maybe ner­vous of get­ting be­hind the wheel of the car. Can you re­mem­ber the first time that you drove by your­self? Per­haps you were a bit ner­vous and on edge. How­ever, within a mat­ter of months, driv­ing be­came sec­ond na­ture; you could drive without having to con­sciously con­cen­trate on the task.

So you learnt some­thing new, which was dif­fi­cult but you man­aged to master it within a few months. Why? Be­cause your level of mo­ti­va­tion to learn the skill was high; learn­ing to drive was a ne­ces­sity, not an op­tion. Sim­ply put, you do what­ever it takes to learn to drive and get your li­cence.

In this case, you were: • Open to learn­ing some­thing new • Open to learn­ing even with dis­com­fort

and fear • You per­sisted in learn­ing • You mas­tered the skill.

In the illustration on the fol­low­ing page, the learner started at the un­con­scious in­com­pe­tence stage and moved very quickly and steadily to the un­con­scious com­pe­tence stage. It just re­quired some rep­e­ti­tion, to put them­selves in stress­ful sit­u­a­tions, and they came out of it to­tally con­fi­dent in their abil­i­ties.

This ap­plies to ev­ery learn­ing sit­u­a­tion. Learn­ing some­thing new re­quires a level of dis­com­fort, and to be able to master learn­ing re­quires a high level of in­ter­nal or in­trin­sic mo­ti­va­tion.

Of­ten the need for im­me­di­ate grat­i­fi­ca­tion (of having the com­fort of do­ing the same old thing) over­comes the de­sire to learn some­thing new.

In one way, not having a ref­er­ence ex­pe­ri­ence to judge what you are learn­ing, or in sim­ple terms a mem­ory that has not been cre­ated, is a bless­ing in dis­guise. It is some­times eas­ier to learn some­thing en­tirely new than to re­learn some­thing you have been do­ing for some time. This is why at times new real es­tate agents can out­per­form the es­tab­lished agents.

The chal­lenge for many peo­ple when learn­ing is that they re­fer ev­ery­thing new to what they have known be­fore. Un­con­sciously they cre­ate ar­gu­ments in their head that what they are learn­ing is not right for them or that they have heard it all be­fore. With this lim­it­ing

out­look, how can they pos­si­bly pay at­ten­tion to what is be­ing taught? They are learn­ing new things, yet strug­gle to see the rel­e­vance to their po­si­tion or job func­tion, which means they cre­ate bar­ri­ers to learn­ing.

To counter this, be aware of what you know, put it aside and then think about what you are learn­ing and adapt it for your needs.

When we are learn­ing some­thing new, our at­ten­tion needs to be on learn­ing, not on de­bat­ing the learn­ing.

Be­hav­iours to be aware of dur­ing learn­ing: • Be aware of your at­ten­tion drift­ing from the task at hand. You might start to look at your phone, email, so­cial me­dia. • Check out your own body lan­guage. Are you ha­bit­u­ally look­ing around the room, fid­get­ing too much, maybe yawn­ing? • Show flex­i­bil­ity. Learn to ac­cept other points of view, or at least pay due re­spect to them. Not ev­ery­thing has to be ei­ther black or white. Three forces – tech­no­log­i­cal, so­cial and eco­nomic – are jointly chang­ing the real es­tate in­dus­try rapidly, along with ev­ery other sec­tor. To keep up with this trans­for­ma­tion, we need to have an open mind and em­brace change.

Past fa­mil­iar prac­tices pro­vide emo­tional se­cu­rity, so it is un­der­stand­able that, from a be­havioural point of view, you may not like change. How­ever, to progress we need to learn and to learn we need to em­brace change.

One way of em­brac­ing change is to ask dif­fer­ent ques­tions of our­selves.

In­stead of ‘I can’t see how this is rel­e­vant to what I am do­ing now’, ask ‘ What can I learn from this in­for­ma­tion?’ or ‘ What or how can I adapt this in­for­ma­tion?’ The sim­ple process of ask­ing your­self bet­ter ques­tions will help to stim­u­late bet­ter an­swers that al­low you to re-en­gage with your­self men­tally, emo­tion­ally and phys­i­cally. To learn some­thing new, we must adapt our be­hav­iour to change the way we in­ter­pret the in­for­ma­tion. Have you ever won­dered why chil­dren learn so fast and en­joy the process? One of the rea­sons is that they don’t have any ref­er­ence ex­pe­ri­ences or mem­o­ries of old knowl­edge or ideas. They don’t judge; they soak learn­ing up like sponges. I do not ad­vo­cate to­tally dis­count­ing the past in the work en­vi­ron­ment, but I’m an ac­tive cam­paigner for an open mind. Don’t let the past im­pact your fu­ture learn­ing and devel­op­ment.

What can you do to be a bet­ter learner? • Seek out new knowl­edge and skills • Be mo­ti­vated to learn • Have an open mind • Ask bet­ter ques­tions of your­self • Ap­ply the knowl­edge be­fore dis­card­ing • En­joy the process of learn­ing. •

Pan­cho Mehrota is the CEO of Fron­tier Per­for­mance and a recog­nised lead­ing ex­pert in the area of com­mu­ni­ca­tion, in­flu­ence and the psy­chol­ogy of sell­ing. For more in­for­ma­tion visit fron­tierp.com.au

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