In a previous post about resilience training we talked about embracing the process of learning. Leaning into the process of learning is uncomfortable because we are developing and ‘working out’ new parts of our brain which builds new neural pathways.

Accepting and embracing being uncomfortable as part of the learning process grows our resilience because naturally we are prone to avoid unease and uncomfortable feelings.

11 Tips When Learning Anything New

This article gives us 11 essential tips to follow when trying to learn anything new. In short, they are;

  1. Adopt a ‘growth mindset’ – coined by Carol Dweck , expecting challenges and setbacks. Check out Carol’s book.
  2. Build in positive reinforcement – to override our natural ‘negativity bias’
  3. Practice daily – not for practice makes perfect, but practice to make improvements
  4. Take a break – we need breaks in between to cement what we’ve learned
  5. Hide your phone – its distracting
  6. Create a concrete plan for practicing – build it into a daily routine, even better is to learn with a buddy for accountability
  7. Have different entry points – learn from different methods (watch, listen, discuss)
  8. Have reasonable expectations – otherwise we set ourselves up for failure
  9. Make it a positive experience – since learning is uncomfortable, build in positive feelings and rewards
  10. Keep stress at bay – it detracts from learning
  11. Sleep well – it helps our new neural pathways build stronger

Many of these tips we’ve covered in our previous post on resilience training, but there are a few other points in this article worth digging in a little deeper.

Negativity Bias

We all can get stuck on thinking about setbacks or unpleasant feelings when we’re learning anything new. But unpleasant feelings are normal throughout the process. Sometimes we give up because we feel uncomfortable in learning something new.

Research calls these normal feelings a ‘negativity bias’; an inclination to see, pay attention to, and use negative information more than positive information. It likely stemmed from our evolution where paying attention to negative threats was a matter of life and death.

Knowing that we have a ‘negativity bias’ does not mean that we need to succumb to it! We can train our brains (just as we train ourselves to learn new skills such as juggling, a new language, or a new way to meet and work with our colleagues) to deliberately focus on the positive, knowing that we all have a negativity bias, especially when learning.

If we intentionally focus on small incremental improvements, what it is that we are learning instead of how far we have to go, we can learn to override the negativity bias. Breaking it down into smaller and more manageable chunks allows us to see small improvements.

Awareness of the Process of Learning

Practice, or regular inclusion of the intentional choice of how we think about learning, knowing full well it is uncomfortable and choosing to look for the positive progress not only helps us in whatever we are learning, but it also entices others to join us. Learning in community and with others compounds the positive feelings. Practicing something new with someone else who is also learning is a positive feedback loop that increases our chances to continue practicing.

For me, the most helpful tip on how to learn is recognizing, accepting and then embracing that the process is uncomfortable…and that feeling uncomfortable is a normal part of learning and should not be a reason to not try. I don’t want to get to the end of my life with regrets of not choosing to learn based on fear or discomfort.  Feeling uncomfortable does not need to dictate my internal dialogue as well as my outward actions.  I can train and influence my own approach towards learning and therefore influence those around me. Whenever I notice myself getting stuck in negative thought patterns, I want to question it. Is it true?  Am I just uncomfortable because this is new to me?

In this way, I think the art to learning is knowing what happens in our brains and how it makes us feel, how our biases try to keep us comfortable,  intentionally choosing positivity, and accepting setbacks and challenges as all part of the overall good of learning something new.

Choosing Fun in Learning

One of the most consistent pieces of feedback we hear from the teams we work with at Summit Team Building is how much fun people had on our programs whether that was a virtual team building program such as Play it Forward or a more in depth training workshop such as Emotional Intelligence . With some teams their primary goal is to build connection and team relationships. For other teams, the primary goal is leadership development while building team relationships. Whatever the goal, we agree with the Secret to Learning article   that a positive and fun experience, promoting positive team interactions really does help people (and teams) reach their goals. All our virtual programs help teams to put into practice (we call it experiential learning) many of the 11 tips mentioned in the Secret to Learning article.

We’re Here to Help

We’d love to hear how learning is going in your team to see if there might be a way that we can come alongside your team to unlock some more of these learning secrets to help your team reach their goals! Connect with us to learn more about how we can do that.