I can’t do that because I don’t know how.
There is nothing more sinister that holds back human growth than these words that we all say to ourselves.
There was a time when you didn’t know how to walk. You took fragile steps, falling on your chubby baby butt over and over. Your parents whispered encouragement, each small action a joyous occasion until finally you started tearing around the house.
As a baby the same learning experience happens over and over again. You learned to talk, you learned to ride a bike, to read and write letters. Newton’s law applies here as well, a mind in motion wants to stay in motion.
1. Stop Being Lazy
Two steps forward and one step back is still 50% faster than doing nothing at all.
Seriously dude, we all slack. Before any task occurs, we start to dread it. That dread gains a life of its own but then we finally mature, afterwards we all look back and say, that wasn’t so bad right?
Don’t look at the height of the wave in front of you, but look at the smallest drop. You can easily beat a drop of water.
Take the first step.
2. Break it down into smaller steps
Rome might not have been built in a day, but each brick was.
Every large task can be broken down into smaller peices. If you are a programmer like me, this might come naturally to you. If not, look again at how toddlers do it.
Even if the smallest step like saying the letter A when you are learning the alphabet sounds silly to adults, logical breakdown is a simple tool that toddlers master quickly.
If you are trying to learn how to play a song, first learn a single note, then a chord, then the verse, then the chorus, and then the whole thing.
At each step, practice and repeat until the smallest action becomes muscle memory. All those small steps combined together become a fluid motion when you reach expertise.
3. Embrace Failure
You will fail. Repeatedly. That’s a good thing. Learn to love failure.
Each amazing photograph you see, has a thousand terrible ones behind it. Each home run, was preceeded by many strike outs. Each of these swings is a chance to learn. How was that ball faster than the last? How was the light different in this photo? What can I do to make this better?
Success doesn’t come over night, it comes after a thousand nights of tear your hair out determination and why didn’t I try that before experimentation.
It’s easy to get discouraged when you fail, and that’s when your support network comes in.
4. Surround Yourself With Positivity
When the going gets tough, the tough find a cheerleader. Cut out that macho crap that you only need yourself. It takes a village to remove the idiots.
As a baby, your parents constantly reminded you how amazing you are. As a teenager, teachers and friends do the same. Find your cheerleader in your group of friends. Or go online and find others trying to learn the same thing.
The world is a very positive place, learning is happening constantly around us. When you step in to that river, you will get carried away.
5. Measure Your Progress
Why do we have odometers? Its to help answer the question are we there yet?
Anything you are learning, you can measure the progress. How many calories did you burn? How many questions did you answer correctly? How fast did you throw that ball today? Grades in school aren’t for you to compare to others, but to compare with your previous self.
Without measurement, you risk flying blind and not getting your daily reward of progress. You wouldn’t take a trip around the world without planning out your flights, well do the same with your mind. Find a way to analytically understand how far you have come along.
6. Have Fun Dude
Lighten up and don’t take the process so seriously. Playtime leads to learning. Find a way to make a game out of it or at least enjoy the journey. Your destination is not what you are trying to learn, but the state of being mentally flexible and open.
7. Challenge Yourself
Anything worth doing is going to be difficult. We are built to thrive on challenge. If you expected it to be easy, you thought wrong. Even if you have gained some mastery before, each new task has it’s own set of challenges. But if you embrace that head on, nothing will get in your way.
You can only change the world by making atoms move.