Life Goals and Learning Curves

by Haider on February 21, 2010 · 6 comments

in Learning

We are often told that with the right attitude we can achieve anything. If we believe in ourselves, the sky is the limit.

But while attitude and mindset play a crucial role in achieving our life goals, most goals are just not a walk in the park. They require some effort to climb uphill and cross a learning curve.

To simply ignore the fact that you don’t already know everything there is to know to reach your goal means you’ll be running around in circles wondering why you’re not making any progress. And the reason why you’re not making any progress is that you’re refusing to go in the direction where the learning curve is. You can’t see your goal and can’t find a way to get there because you have to go past the learning curve to get to your goal.

No climbing, no success.

Knowledge & Skills

When I talk about learning curves, I’m usually referring to two kinds of curves:

1) Learning something new

2) Developing a new skill

You can memorize what a keyboard looks like. That’s knowledge. But fast typing is a skill. You need both knowledge and skill to reach your goals. Both require practice. The more you learn, the easier it is to learn more.

What knowledge you need to acquire and what skills you need to develop depends on the goal you’re pursuing.

But what matters is acknowledging that you need to pass the learning curve to get to your goal.

Admit That You Don’t Know

One of the main reasons why we struggle to reach our goals is the refusal to admit when we don’t know. We find it offensive to say that we’re ignorant. It’s demeaning. It expresses a lack, when we should be singing our own praises and repeating positive mantras.

But if you’re unwilling to admit that you don’t know, you’ll never have the courage to face your learning curves. You will struggle to make sense of an incline when you’re expecting a flat surface. But rather than admit that the ground isn’t flat, you try to motivate yourself to believe that it is!

That’s not dedication. That’s delusion.

Learning curves can only be passed by learning something new. Admitting that you don’t know isn’t an insult. It’s a fact, and one you should embrace wholeheartedly.

Let people know you’re struggling to understand a concept. Ask for support. Seek out recommendations. Read up on the basics of a new subject, without thinking that it’s below you to admit that you’re a novice. You are, so act the part. You can only climb a learning curve if you know where you stand along the curve.

And remember:

Before you know, you don’t.

Before you can, you can’t.

At least that’s what Nature seems to tell us.

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Victoria Vives February 21, 2010 at 10:58 pm

We definitely have to get up to speed with the things that we want to accomplish – become the right match. It might be a matter of time, a matter of dedication, a matter of focus… but we do have to direct ourselves to it.

I love your line “Rather than admit that the ground isn’t flat, you try to motivate yourself to believe that it is!” ^_^

Thank you for sharing Haider!
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2 Haider February 22, 2010 at 12:26 am

Hi Victoria!

Nice seeing you around here! :D

I sometimes wonder if I’m too sarcastic. But then I realize it makes me laugh, so I keep the sarcasm in! ;)

3 Manal February 22, 2010 at 1:42 am

Hi Haider,

I like your perspective. Usually people talk about the limitations of choosing easy goals, but not the other way round: people aiming for something difficult thinking it is easy. It is a delusion. Absolutely!

You say: The more you learn, the easier it is to learn more and I fully agree with you. I add from personal experience: the more you learn, the more fun and enjoyable things start to get.

BTW your style works (even if you want to call it sarcasm). :)
Manal´s last blog ..Dealing with Indecision My ComLuv Profile

4 Haider February 22, 2010 at 11:52 am

Thank you for the thoughtful comments, Manal.

Enjoying the process of learning is something I’d like to cover in greater depth, so I’m glad you brought it up. Put simply, I believe the sense of competence (that we’re able to deal effectively with life and its challenges) is at the heart of personal growth. The more we engage in activities that challenge us, but not beyond our abilities, the more we get to enjoy life and everything in it. :)

5 Patricia February 22, 2010 at 9:05 pm

I’ll add Before you can’t, you don’t want to. That’s something my ballet teacher used to tell me when I was a kid. Enjoying the process 0f learning is something that as a teacher I really appreciate.Sometimes we pay more attention to results rather than the path that leads us where we want to go.So I agree with you, if you can’t do it alone, just get some help; and you’ll enjoy it more
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6 Haider February 23, 2010 at 12:54 am

That’s a great addition, Patricia!

I’d like to write a lot more about learning and how to make it easier. Last semester I taught computer programming to students with an arts background. One student was struggling to understand the subject. I told him you don’t lack the brains, you just don’t want to understand it. When I started getting him to focus, he began to experience breakthroughs.

I light up when I see my students engaged in the learning process and understanding new concepts, no matter how basic they are. It’s easy to forget what learning feels like.

Thanks again for your contribution!

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