When was the last time you were a true learner?

A few weeks ago I picked up the practice of Tai Chi after a gap of nearly 20 years. I enrolled in a local class on a Saturday morning and showed up for my first session. It was a great experience and felt brilliant to be getting back into something that I had enjoyed and derived great benefit from in the past.

Having practised Tai Chi before, I have some vague remembered knowledge of what it’s about, the forms that it involves and the philosophy behind it. That helped me as I was driving to my first class. I thought ‘I won’t be a complete novice, I’ve done this before and I might even know what I’m doing’. There were, however, some things that had a big impact on me during my first session.

As the lesson progressed my assumed knowledge started to get in the way of my listening and my learning and I quickly noticed how I might want to change my approach if I wanted to learn anything. Everyone else in the class had been attending for at least a year and I was clearly the novice in the room by quite a distance. I had by this time reconciled myself to listening and learning from the teacher, a difficult thing as she kept talking to me as if it was my first time and consistently pointing out where I was going wrong! She was actually doing this in a really committed and engaging way but I think I must be out of practice at being a learner so I was feeling a bit out of my depth. Imagine my internal reaction when she suggested that other members of the class work with me and teach me too. There I was with people I had never met before telling me how to do things and pointing out where I was making mistakes. Internally my resistance started to build and I suddenly noticed how uncoachable I had become. I took a deep breath and opened myself up to learning all that I could from those around me and the change in my energy and their ability to teach me transformed.

The second lesson a week later was completely different , what we did was almost exactly the same as the week before but the possibilities for me had just got much bigger.

I’ve learnt a lot in my first 2 lessons and not all of it has been about Tai Chi!

Leadership nudgeWhat are you doing this week and how might you achieve more if you flex your learning muscle?

By Ian Lock

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