One Thousand Reasons and One

February 25th, 2015 by Wael Leave a reply »

A couple of weeks ago I went on a snowboard-learning trip with friends to one of the most beautiful ski resort in the world. The insight I got back is that shaping yourself into performing a new skill (or changing a habit) acts like feeding your brain with counter-intuitive orders. To the brain, that sounds like asking it to execute what stands against all that it has done so far to protect you and get you here in one piece!

In that field, you find yourself with one thousand reasons to quit and only one to go on!

I say shaping yourself into learning and not simply learning only to be fair to all the battles that happen in the process. Change is hard, we know. What is less obvious to us is that it is mostly so, because it always is faced by the much easier option of quitting. When your progress is less than what your eyes can see and what your ego can live with, motivation becomes questionable. The result is that your brain will find a thousand reasons for you to turn your back and drop the ball.

The live example of my learning curve was torturing: Others are enjoying the scenery, I’m not. Others are putting very little if any effort at all, I’m sweating my ear drums out. Others are sun bathing, I’m ice bruising. I was in the agony of learning at snail speed and I wanted to give reasons for why I was that slow (even when I was not) and to why this is not for me or that I am too old for it (even when it is and I am not). At one point I thought to myself: You’re a sea-guy and you would be much better off if your relationship with snow was confined to snow-man making, quit!

Painful falls every day until...

I mean come on, why put so much effort shaping yourself into such a tough learning when you can stick to something else that you are already more comfortable doing? The shaping was so counter-intuitive at times that I got to the point where my brain thinks it, gives the order to my muscles, out loud, and still, my muscles categorically refuse to abide. And then I had to think with my apparently convinced (and deeply not so much convinced) brain about how to trick my muscles through other, more intuitive orders, to get them to do what I needed them to do.

All that said, contradicting advices add oil to the fire. The thing is, they come abundantly with so little of them applicable by a fresh learner. I didn’t know which one made more sense, which one to follow; I mentally understood them with not yet an ability, at the time, to translate them to action.

All advisors do what they do and say what they say from the best of their hearts, no doubt. Each in their own way, each from their own learning experience. Yet, few of them have the skill to translate the “how” in a way that is execution-able and very little of these advices can the learner’s mind manage on top of all other things happening at the same time. The result is that the brain gets overloaded with too many orders, both internal and advise-originating, and shuts down, which leads to more frustration be it for the learner or the coaches.

What l learned regarding that is to look for insight in every advise rather than to try to follow the advise. I tried to look into and learn what I was doing from a helicopter view first. Then, I rehearsed getting comfortable with what I am expected to do through sleeping over and visualizing it and trying to live it, despite and regardless of its chaos, in slow motion. Finally, I sought from all what I was told the insights that link the dots between what I know I am doing and what I want to learn and do.

All that of course, and only because, if you have a reason that is rugged enough for you to hang on to, and a will reinforced by what you channel from your own stubbornness or call it willpower if you must, and the motivating words and behaviors of people around you, you then have a chance at change or the shaping of yourself into learning, one that will get you the rewards that you solicited when you first started.

When learning something new, or changing an old habit, all the same, you will have a thousand reasons to quit and only one to go on. It is not easy, and you better be ready for it. I learned to snowboard in a week after so many bruises to my rear end and my ego. I remembered at every step of the way that getting there is up to only me.

From here on, it is, once more, up to you.

Out with the guys on Day 4

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