During April, I’m writing 26 posts for the A to Z Blog Challenge. I’m combining my skills as a writer, a life coach, and a martial artist (2nd degree black belt in ITF Taekwondo) to create a series of posts about applying aspects of TKD to life outside of martial arts. Whenever possible, I’ll include a little Taekwondoodle to illustrate what I’m talking about.
After many, many years of getting frustrated while trying to learn new physical things – dances, sports, or whathaveyou – my desire to learn Taekwondo overrode my frustration with the learning process and I was able to stick with it long enough to understand what was getting in my way.
It turns out that that, at least when it comes to physical activity, I am a global learner.* I have to see the big picture before things make sense and as I practice, I learn in big jumps instead of step by step. Once I have the big picture in mind, I *can* practice it piece by piece but before I fully understand what I’m doing, the individual pieces don’t stick.
Basically, without knowing the greater context, I don’t learn easily.
That was a huge revelation for me. And without my strong desire to improve at TKD, I might never have discovered why I struggled with these things.** I might have never stumbled on the fact that there were different ways to learn things. That it wasn’t that I was bad at these things, it was that I approached them differently.
That understanding changed how I approached learning new physical skills. I started asking my instructors (or senior students) to show me the whole pattern before I started learning. I began reading more about the movements before I tried to learn them. I watched videos of people doing those patterns.
And, most importantly, I was more patient with myself.
(Yes, Kevin, I can hear you laughing at me right now. 😉 )
You see, previously, I would get frustrated at my inability to pick up on things that other people were getting right away. I would get impatient and irritated with myself and I ended up getting in my own way.
After figuring out about global learning, I realized that learning these new things was a mostly a matter of time. I would be able to get them eventually, and that there were things I could do to help my understanding along.
And that’s where we get to how this lesson from TKD applies outside the dojang.
Is there anything that is frustrating you that might have its roots in how you are looking at the problem?
Is it possible that your approach is not ‘wrong’ or ‘inadequate’ but just different?
Having diverse learning styles and diverse approaches to problems means that more problems can get solved. If we can be patient with ourselves while we figure out what we are bringing to the (metaphorical) table, we can get all kinds of great things done.
So, perhaps you haven’t figured out how to do the thing in the way that is it usually done.
How ELSE can you do it?
What experience can you bring to the help answer the question at hand?
Perhaps, like me after the global learning revelation, you can work from the assumption that the answer lies ahead and just keep pushing forward until something clicks.
Your struggle doesn’t automatically mean that this thing is ‘not for you’, it doesn’t have to have any meaning at all. Sometimes it is just tricky to learn something new and we just have to accept that it will take time.
P.S. – All of this is assuming that you even want to do the thing. Part of the reason that I didn’t figure out about global learning earlier was that nothing was important enough to me to keep working at it. Once TKD came along, the stakes were raised and I figured out how to proceed.
It’s okay to decide that that something isn’t worth it to you – in most cases you can delegate it, change up the task, or get a team together. If you aren’t really interested in getting better at this thing and you *can’t* ditch it then do your okayest with it and let it be. You have my permission. 😉
*I have not done a lot of research into learning styles or education practices but in the course of figuring out how to learn TKD, I happened on the description of global learning and it fit so perfectly and served me so well that it doesn’t much matter if the concept is well accepted in the world at large.
**There is more to it that the global learning, of course. I also was dealing with a fixed mind-set and the perception that coordination was just innate – that there was no way for me to improve my existing capacity. And, discovered that I have ADHD (the distractable kind) which reassured me about why some things were so tricky for me.