This is a continuation of the “lessons I’ve learned along the way” articles.
Many of the greatest people in history talk about themselves only being where they are as a result of starting where others left off. My hope is to teach other people by allowing them to learn from my own mistakes. This is also an attempt to reflect on my experiences in life, fitness, and business development to so that I can start practicing gratitude. My natural tendency is to constantly strive for more and forget to enjoy things along the way, or appreciate what I’ve already earned. As I’ve evolved, I’ve realized so much about humanity and learning. As I share with people, I continue to get questions on how I “…learned so much.” People want to absorb the knowledge I’ve gained, and the educational courses I just released are a starting point for the transfer of training knowledge. But, those courses are not about learning in general and so this article is more of an explanation for how to maximize your ability in life/business/training to learn. This article, like all the others in the series, is written to my younger self and is aimed at improving and speeding up the learning curve.
Just as we all have a specific ability to adapt to training stimuli, we all have unique abilities to absorb information. Your ability to learn will be both a gift and a curse. In an effort to learn more at a faster rate, you will make way too many sacrifices along the way. Remember there is more to your life than attempting to be dominant or better than other people. You can still learn a lot and at a rapid rate without sacrificing your health or personal fulfillment. Additionally, you need to learn about how your mind operates in an effort to teach others more effectively. Teaching others will be necessary to the learning process, and the better you can teach, the better you will be able to learn. As you teach others, remember that their bandwidth or determination may not be to the same level as yours and that there are different learning styles. For example, some may learn better from reading, others may learn better from watching, and some may require learning through their bodies. As a teacher, you must learn how to give information to each of the individuals in a way they can absorb knowledge. Developing your empathy will help with this learning process and help you recognize that there are different types of intelligences. Some of the people who you may initially classify as ‘dumb’ will, with time and experience, prove themselves to be genius in other aspects of intelligences. Understand where your strengths are, and be patient with yourself as you learn things you are less talented in learning. Strive to be more patient with others as you teach them things they struggle with that come naturally to you. In your path to understand yourself you will have to also spend time learning about others, and in that process you will learn even more about yourself. Self-awareness is such a powerful gift for happiness and success. But realize that true self-awareness requires experiences, self-reflection, connection, time, and the comparison of your ‘self’ versus others.
You are a stubborn mule and in spite of people continually telling you to do things, you won’t listen until you are ready to hear. With regards to reading, you should listen. Calm your mind and learn how to read. Constantly work on improving your retention and speed. While you won’t learn everything you know in books, your competitiveness will come in handy if you apply it to reading. Eventually you will be reading over a book a week with a rigorous work schedule, but it starts slowly. At first you will struggle to keep your brain on track, you will be distracted, you will be antsy, and your mind will convince you that it’s not worth it. But, reading is a skill much like training (or sex!). At first it is awkward, but eventually it will become vital to your existence and you won’t want to imagine your life without it. Reading will give you one of the biggest competitive advantages you have, and will help you to manage your own insanity. Start now and don’t let any excuse get in your way.
As you encounter new information, if you feel that it is sound and worth further exploration, put it into practice right away. Theories, optimal training strategies, and new methods need to be tested extensively. They will be the basis for you proving many of the things you are thinking, but they will also teach you a lot. Execution and showing how the knowledge advances things in the real world is key. Don’t waste time theorizing for too long before you test things out. In the age of the internet there will constantly be people chiming in with their opinions and their theories, or who claim they have the answer. It is great for collaboration, but stay focused on what you do and be the best at it because all the rest can be very distracting. Your actions will speak louder than others’ words, and reinforcing your confidence through action will always protect you from listening to derogatory opinions. It is the people in the trenches who often change future outcomes, lead from there.
Spend Money For Knowledge
As a result of social conditioning, your past experiences, and your desires you will hold money on a relatively high pedestal when you are younger. Money can add value to your life, but it does not define the value of your life or make you happy. But, building a business, becoming an expert, helping other people, and learning will make you happy. Doing those things requires spending your money on education. Just pay for it. Don’t ask questions, don’t make excuses. Do everything you can to pay for your learning. Great businessmen will often say “it takes money to make money”, and I believe in the fitness world this is true because the finances you spend on education will turn you into a more valuable asset to the community. A lot of the education you purchase will be a let down, but if you are constantly trying to learn, you will constantly improve. The people who make excuses why they can’t afford education will often times be the same ones that spend money on expensive clothes, over priced cars, and other individualized preferences, which often don’t yield progress. Continue to make the sacrifices necessary to purchase knowledge, which is always important to you. You’ll be considered weird, and other people will resent that you can avoid material pleasures, but it will be worth it in the end if you can delay gratification.
I will be writing a specific blog on mentors in two weeks because this one is so important. It requires a definition of mentor, what you should look for, what you should avoid, and lots of other information. For now, just remember that people are everything. Life is meaningless without others to help you define yourself, share joy, and most importantly win. The people you learn from will teach you the most valuable lessons in life. Find them, hang on to them for as long as the relationship stimulates growth in both directions, and let go gracefully when the time comes to find new connections.
Life is a continual process of growth. We are always changing in one aspect or another until we die. Our skill sets, our perspective, our self-concept, our understanding, our bodies, and just about everything else has the capacity to improve over the course of our lives. In training and coaching this is true as well. You will always have the ability to learn more about yourself and your athletes. You should remember that you never arrive at the end point of your learning, so stay diligent about your process of advancement and focus constantly on learning. Be aware though that life is not easy and the growth associated with learning is often times a painful process. But, those willing to endure hardships are rewarded. The choice whether or not you want the changes in you to be improvement or deterioration is yours. Take charge of your learning!