Tag: struggle

24. Learning is NOT Life

Byron_FanLife happens.

In life, there are moments when it is best to forget yourself completely, when accomplishment becomes an immediate NEED and all thought of learning must be abandoned. The world is full of examples of people who exhibit super-human strength, who risk life and limb, in their efforts to save another or themselves from impending doom.

Drama aside…

To live fully is to allow yourself to act according to circumstances.

It also means differentiating a true state of emergency from that which is self-imposed.

Allowing yourself to learn – slowly and without struggle – brings you to that place where you CAN act quickly and powerfully when you need to.

Learning prepares you to perform the tasks of your life – be they highly skilled or ordinary – with grace and ease. In other words – BETTER.

Whatever demands you face in the future, know that all your mucking about, all the trial and error and going slowly with attention that you experience while you were learning are what bring you to the level of expertise that allow you to do what needs to be done with grace, skill and intuition.

What we have been talking about so far is explicit learning – the act of consciously setting out to learn something, anything, better. But there is another, deeper kind of learning that happens as a result of all that explicit learning. It’s called IMPLICIT learning.

Implicit learning is what happens when you no longer have to think about what you are doing. It is that deep knowing that does not require conscious thought. It is the result of hours of practice, focus, awareness, patience, and all the things we’ve been talking about. Implicit learning is what you experience when you’re in the zone. It’s what happens when you make appropriate choices without contemplating those choices. It’s what you exhibit when you are acting without thinking. In fact, shifting into “thinking” mode when you are in the zone takes you out of it and brings you back to a state of raw learning. Thinking, you become a novice once again and all your skill means nothing. That’s what happens when someone who is highly skilled chokes — they start to think about what they are doing rather than rely on and trust the deep well of knowledge that resides inside.

To create that deep well of knowledge, however, requires explicit learning. To live fully, to reach your own “zone” requires much learning.

So… Learn on!

21. Stop Trying

Helm_EyesLife may have its trials. But learning doesn’t need to.

Think of two students out to learn the same task. One applies himself, pushing as hard as he can in order to achieve his goal. The other makes a game of it, enjoying the process as much as he desires the result. Which gains ultimate success?

The drive to strive is founded on the notion that hard work is essential to achievement. It is rooted in the internal conviction that without struggle, all efforts are somehow invalid or inadequate – that the “student” is somehow inadequate. AND that redemption can only be earned through pushing, striving and struggle.

Paradoxically, all that “trying hard” inhibits the process of learning and hinders the ability to become fluent and fluid in your desired skill.

That’s not to say that effort and time are not required; or that a laissez-faire attitude will pay off. Learning is not a linear progression. It requires patience and, above all, curiosity.

Proficiency can only be achieved through diligence and practice. Yet neither require you to push, strive or struggle.

True learning comes when you abandon “trying” in favor of observing, assessing and experimenting. When you see that an option doesn’t work, get creative and find another approach. Be curious. Make the process enjoyable. In doing so, you will unburden yourself of struggle and open your mind and brain to untold possibilities for learning.

16. Seek Harmony


These are all buzzwords for the superfluous and non-harmonious.

Close your eyes and imagine you are watching your favorite performer – dance, theater, sports, music, driving, whatever you can envision. Your performer is “ON”. His or her performance flows without effort, without a single distracting step or note. Everything is perfection. Performer and performance are one. All is harmony.

What you see is the result of hours and hours of training (i.e., learning). It is also the result of letting go of anything and everything that is NOT the performance.

Michelangelo famously noted that he did not create a sculpture. Instead, he chipped away at the marble to release the sculpture that resided within. He cut away anything and everything that was not part of the figure he was carving. He took away the superfluous and what was left looked effortless. And beautiful.

Michelangelo’s sculptures did not materialize overnight. They took time – lots of it. Likewise, they took work. Michelangelo spent hours and expended much energy on his creations. Still, he did not struggle or force or rush the results. Had he done any of those things, no matter how skilled he was with hammer and chisel, the effort would have shown. The harmony of his David would have been disturbed and the sculpture would have been less than the marvel we know it to be.

The same goes when YOU learn to do something better. When you try too hard, it shows. When you push and force and hurry, the result of whatever you are hoping to improve can only fall short of its potential. On the other hand, when you look for harmony between all the elements of what you are doing and working toward, the result is efficiency, ease of effort, and, dare I say it, a sense of pleasure.

As you go about your learning, ask yourself:
Where am I forcing?
Where am I trying to make something happen?
Where am I rushing?
Where am I holding onto preconceived ideas of how something “should” be and not allowing the natural results to flow?
Where am I holding back?
Where am I resisting?

Then see if you can let go and allow yourself to learn at your own distinct pace, with the lightest of efforts. And know that as you let go into the abyss of wonder and knowledge, your skill WILL increase. Your speed will also increase – WITHOUT you having to do anything special to make it happen. You will find that what you do brings pleasure – to yourself and to others.

And when you least expect it, you will be your own performance.

15. Easy Does It

Rohe_GlassIf you’re like the rest of us, you were brought up to believe that life is hard. Guess what – IT IS.

If it hasn’t already, Life will challenge you in ways that you cannot begin to imagine. And yet…

Learning IS NOT Life!

How you apply yourself in learning to do whatever it is you wish to do better, needn’t be cause for struggle, or hardship, or pain.

In learning – Struggle is optional. In fact, struggle actually impedes learning.

Learning is the progeny of your nervous system. It’s what your nervous system does AND what it achieves. Your nervous system learns through experience. It is programmed to choose efficiency. But it can only choose from among the options you offer it.

If you insist on imposing struggle, excessive effort, discomfort, pain, etc. into the learning process, you give your nervous system no choice but to select from among choices that include the very things you find so disagreeable. In other words, your nervous system is forced to select the best of the worst.

When you do less, making your efforts and actions light, small, easy, joyful, YOU teach your nervous system that those possibilities exist AND you greatly increase the likelihood that you will learn to DO accordingly.

Your nervous system is designed to differentiate. Your senses are capable of distinguishing very small differences. But, and this is a very big BUT, distinguishing and differentiating are relative. If all you ever give yourself the opportunity to feel and experience is excessive effort, then that becomes the background against which your nervous system must distinguish. Because you are already trying very hard, you must work that much harder for your nervous system to perceive a difference. The proverbial push must come to shove in order for you to feel that something is different.

On the other hand, if you experiment with ease – small shifts, gentle actions – your nervous system plays along and over time learns to distinguish (i.e., notice) smaller and smaller changes. As your ability to perceive small changes becomes greater and greater, your nervous system becomes better able to differentiate (i.e., notice the difference between) the small changes. This, in turn, allows you to make smaller and smaller shifts leading to greater refinement in whatever it is you are learning to do. Without effort, you make the shift from impossibility to possibility, from possibility to ease, from ease to elegance. YOU. The possibility exists within YOU. IF you are willing to let go of overwork.

The take-away is this – In order to achieve, you don’t need to work so hard. You have the ability to teach yourself that struggle is indeed optional.

Letting go of excess effort makes you more efficient and efficiency releases you from the bondage of struggle. Ask yourself – Where am I working hard? Where is my desire to achieve causing me to do more than is necessary? Then allow yourself to do a little less.

14. Believe

Cloud_BoucherAh, that elusive goal. You dream of the day when you attain it, imagining what life will be like when you do.

Then you stop yourself dead in your tracks, reining yourself in because the thought of actually obtaining your dream is too big, too far-fetched, too far off to imagine. BUT – YOU CAN if you believe.

Like Dorothy whose adventures in OZ offered a mirror of self-imposed complexity and the unwillingness to look inside for the answers (and the truth), YOU possess the ability to achieve the seemingly impossible. That achievement begins with believing.

What does it mean to believe – in yourself and in your goal?

Contrary to what you might expect, believing is not about blindly plunging forward in hot pursuit of a mysterious something out there. No. To believe is to trust – in yourself and in the process of learning and adapting.

Belief requires that you BE – ever present to shifts in your attention, effort, direction, emotions, thoughts and accomplishments. Belief means seeing that you are ON the path and gently bringing yourself back when you wander off.

How do you know you are ON the path? Simply put you are on the path when you do NOT struggle.

That is not to say that your life will proceed without storms or the occasional fallen branch blocking your way. Those things happen to EVERYONE.

It’s what you do when the unexpected happens that matters.

If you BELIEVE, a disruption is simply a disruption – a chance to re-assess, catch your breath, open your eyes to the possibility of a wider, easier path than the one you are on. To the non-believer, a disruption is cause for alarm, an excuse to abandon self and goal, the catalyst for a flurry of mind-less effort that leaves you winded and wounded.

IF you are attending to yourself, staying clear of story-land and struggle, you are well on your way to believing and achieving. How will you remind yourself to gently come back to you?