One of the difficulties people have in the self help arena or psychological model of creating Greatness happens when they learn something new. Maybe they read a new book, or attended a seminar, and they are ready to practice something new about their life. As they begin to practice, when they run into difficulty, they might begin to think they aren’t ready or it begins to feel worse before it feels better. Something along the process breaks down and they record that it wasn’t meant for them or it’s not the right tool or that there is something wrong with them.
There are two crucial axis’s to learning. They are conscious/unconscious on one, and competence/incompetence on the other. Think of it this way – when you learn a complex task, you work very hard to learn the steps. You piece the steps together, and then you perform the task repetitively to the point that you can do it in your sleep. You’ve learned it.
When you think of yourself and how you are, you can do old you in your sleep. Your happiness and joy, your anger or depression, what you like about you, what you dislike about you… when you’re playing and having fun… when you’re being a couch potato… you’re in a crisis… all of you, all of your glory and warts… You’ve practiced a million times and you will do you perfectly.
Anytime you try to learn, try to change yourself, try to improve, it’s a bit awkward at first. Like learning a new song on the piano, you must do it in section and then you string the sections together. The old you will practice the new skill, and if you’re going to learn it, you have to stick with it little by little. If you’re lucky, you’re not given a hard test in life until you have more confidence in this new, improved version of you. You practice the Old You with the little bit of improvement and then one day… it’s just who you are.
Now back to our metaphor: you’ve practiced your song enough that you’re pretty good at it, or your golf swing is great and you feel great on the first tee box. But now, suddenly, if you go to Carnegie Hall, or you’re on the first tee box of a Pro-Am with a professional golfer and an audience watching you… you’ve upped the crisis point and the intensity of the moment! If you’re like most people, you’re going to shank your shot, or you’re going to struggle through the performance. So something that you thought you had repetitively practiced and were great at, depending on the context, all of a sudden can get difficult. What you dislike about you, when you’re playing you, when you’re playing a couch potato, when you’re in a crisis – you have practiced a million times. And you do you well, and you do you perfectly today.
So in real life, after your seminar, or after your book, previously when you thought you had something down – you had done your self help, you had done your psychology improvement, and you even liked the changes and you feel great – all of a sudden, the boss yells at you, or your spouse gets upset, or you lose a customer. Most of us will think to ourselves “Oh, I can’t do this. It doesn’t work. I’ll never be able to do this.” We don’t give your complex mind and its psychology going back decades of work, the chance to get better. Most people, at a time of crisis will stop, you’ll quit, you’ll give up.
Well today you can change that. Realize that the changes and growth that you desire are not rocket scientist tasks – they do take some time to work into your fabric, into the tapestry of who you are. Do not quit, realize that there is a curve of consciousness and competence with learning any new tool or skill. You must get to the point where you can play your song, or swing your club, without even thinking about it. You must practice until you are unconsciously competent, and apply the new you in times of crisis when it really matters in order to grow!