What is the best way to go about getting better at a certain skill? Do you get better by attending classes, getting advice by others or something completely different. Or does the way in which you go about learning, not matter as much as the mindset you bring to the table? My experience would incline me to put my money on the latter.
I have been taking classes and instructions from a lot of different people the last couple of years. Both individually and in groups. And taught both groups and individuals. What I have started to notice, is the difference in how people go about learning. The teacher/instructor, is of course a big piece of the puzzle, but in this post I will focus on the student/pupil.
I will make the bold statement, that from a single hour of a hard, let’s say gymnastics class, you can determine which pupils are going to show the least improvement over time. These people might be among the best, which as I will describe later – they often are, but they will not improve as fast as they could or maybe improve at all. This goes for pshysical activities as for mentally demanding classes.
Although there are similarities among them, I will start by dividing them into two groups: beginners and good performers.
Beginners with this anti-improvement-mindset will think that by signing up for a class, they will be given the key to improvement. They will attend a class and look for a quick-fix to up their abilities. Once the reality hits them, that they have to work for it, the excuses almost fight a rumble-in-the-jungle-worthy fight to get out of their mouth. These people will have the worst ever attitude towards the instructor – “oh why the hell do I have to do this” – “this is not fun” – etc. etc. Their entire body language just screams, in the most easily understood universal language, – “GET ME THE HELL OUT OF HERE”.
But why the hell did you go here in the first place then. The instructor knows a lot of things you do not. That is why he is – yes you’ve guessed it – the INSTRUCTOR. Shut up – listen and learn.
Good performers are a little bit different in their reasoning, but it amounts to just about the same final result. They know they are good, but feel even better or are afraid of showing any sign of weakness, that would challenge others perceptions of them as being better. As long as the instructor keeps them doing things inside their comfortzone, they will play along with an okay attitude, not good – but okay. Once the instructor starts challenging them, in ways where they start showing signs of weaknesses; or maybe not weakness but just levels the playingfield – then they will, even more overtly than the beginner, show their disapprovement towards the instructor. And going even further, the good performer, is also the one who could let their discontent towards the instructor, spread among the other pupils and thereby ”spreading” their bad attitude.
Then, as you might have guessed, the link between these two types, is the lack of humble attitude towards the instructor and the willingness to put in hard work. If you attend a class in computer programming, and you feel that your abilities, as a programmer, is as good as the instructors, do not see it as your call to question all his decisions, thereby ruining it for everybody else. Put in your work, be humble and sit through the class; you might learn something or you might not – but either way, unless the instructor is telling you to do something that will hurt you, which is kind of hard in a programming class – then just try the best you can to sit through the class and atleast let the other pupils get their share of knowledge. And if you are a beginner, then even though you may have seen people do amazing things on youtube, you are still a beginner, you still attend this class to learn something; or atleast you should. The instructor does know far more than you; again if it does not hurt you, as in rips your arm of, then just suck it up and do it. Afterwards you can call all your friends and moan about your hard or bad experience. But while you are there – suck it up!
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