How would you feel if I showed you two electric wires dangling from my ceiling and asked you to install a small lamp there? Would you know what to do?
(Hint: it takes less than 2 minutes and all you need is a screwdriver and a small contraption called a terminal block. It’s teachable in under 3 minutes.)
Most people freeze. Their brain goes into overdrive, and their body refuses to move.
Back when you were a kid, how would you react when your mother asked you to check whether or not a meal was cooked and ready to eat?
I would invariably panic. My mind would instantly start racing: “How can I know if it’s cooked? What does that actually mean? What if I’m mistaken?”.
That’s when the paralysis would set in. Cooking seemed so foreign to me that I couldn’t even take the first step.
There are many more skills that paralyze beginners. We all have something we know so little about that we won’t even dare try.
We tend to put off learning these skills indefinitely even though they are incredibly rewarding to learn. I hear almost daily from people who have put off their dream of learning guitar for years or even decades.
The interesting insight here is that these skills aren’t much harder to tackle than any other skill. They just seem out of reach because of this paralyzing effect.
As soon as you get a feel for the basics, the paralysis disappears.
In my experience, the longer we allow these skills to have their paralyzing effect on us, the more power they gain. Soon enough it’s scary just to think about them. They end up inhibiting a part of ourselves that we wish we could change.
Let’s do a little thought experiment.
Imagine something goes wrong at home. Your shower starts to leak: drip, drip, drip…
Usually, your inner dialogue goes something like:
– Uuugghh. What should I do?
– I could call a plumber but that’ll probably be expensive and I bet this wouldn’t be too hard to fix… If only I knew how.
– I feel guilty that I can’t do it myself. Should I ask a friend?
– Maybe I can put a towel under it to muffle the sound and hope it stops.
You know that feeling don’t you? We all do to some extent.
Now imagine the same scenario but this time you know exactly what to do. Minutes after the “drip drip drip”, the leak is fixed.
How would you feel?
How would your posture change? What would your day look like, fueled by that victory? Would your husband, wife, friend, be proud of you? Would you be proud of yourself?
There is a huge upside to overcoming the paralysis. Because of the perceived difficulty, you will feel like a superhero after learning the skill. And of course, you will look like a magician to your friends. “How did you do that?! I could never…”
These skills seem impossible to tackle, but they are in fact no different from any other skill except for inducing “beginner paralysis”.
Could it be time to reevaluate how you feel about tackling the skill that scares you most?
Today, more than ever, overcoming the learning paralysis is at your fingertips: Welcome to the learning revolution.
Thanks to the Internet, there have never been as many options for learning new skills.
Does drawing scare you? Well, you can get rid of your drawing paralysis in 15 minutes just by watching this TED talk with a pen and paper:
If it’s guitar and you have one handy, here’s a video of mine that will get you playing a tune in 8 minutes:
You can learn enough to soar above the “illusion wall” this week.
Take 5 minutes now and find a way to give whatever it is that paralyzes you a real try.
It could be a free video on youtube, a higher-end online course, a real world class close to home (or work), a friend showing you the ropes, anything. The medium doesn’t matter.
Do yourself a favor and commit now. Even if it’s just one class/video/etc.
Challenge the paralysis. You will thank yourself later.