We’ve All Done This. Did We Understand the Consequences?

This is a short 4 minute read. But an important one.

It was a sunny afternoon in Corsica when we decided to go for a swim. Instead of driving to a beach, we chose to take a shorter path through a series of big rocks that extend all the way to the water.

Most of us were used to this so we didn’t think twice and hopped from rock to rock as we’d been doing since we were kids.

Half way in, I turned around and noticed that a couple of our friends were having trouble going forward. They were hesitantly crawling through the rocks and were barely two yards in.
I heard some laughing around me.

Just jump from one rock to the next, it’s easy!

I’ll bet you anything that those who were laughing didn’t realize that they were setting themselves up for failure.

That simple act was having a subtle negative impact on their subconscious mind that would come to hurt them in the future.

In this post I’m going to explain exactly why this happens, as well as the consequences of this negative impact that I’m sure you have already experienced (I sure have).

Let’s First Talk About Top Rapid Learners

The people who you look at and think “why is it so easy for them?” or “how do they get so good so fast?”. One fundamental reason they got that good is that they all understand these two simple concepts:

  1. Everything can be learned
  2. Every skill level is a combination of many other smaller skills

I like to think about it as a Giant Web of Skills that are all interlinked.


The speed at which you will learn anything new is directly linked to the amount of connected skills, and your level in each one.

Even if you are a good wakeboarder, have good balance, are comfortable swimming in a pool, can do pushups, skateboard, and are pretty much in shape, if you’ve never swam in open water or been in the ocean with waves, you could have serious trouble in your first days learning how to surf.

Great rapid learners know that very soon they will be in the exact same position the person who couldn’t hop from rock to rock was in. They know that at any given time they could be confronted with a situation that isn’t connected to their Giant Web of Skills where they will look absolutely ridiculous to those who are comfortable with that skill.

Are you starting to see the link?

Could you have laughed? If so…

Here’s What Will Happen in Your Future:

The next time you find yourself in the shoes of a total beginner, you will have a flashback.

You will get an out-of-body experience where you are the person crawling from rock to rock, and a crowd is looking at you. You WILL feel ridiculous.
And since you previously hardwired your brain, you will start thinking that those watching you are probably laughing at you, thinking about how easy it is for them.

So you won’t want to fail. You will become self-conscious. You will start having negative internal dialogue bombarding your brain. All of which will significantly impair the speed at which you learn.

You can recognize the self-conscious ones easily because when they try something new they keep saying they’re sorry and continuously comment on how ridiculous they look instead of doing. Instead of having fun, being playful, trying, failing lightly, and getting back up, they look like they are paralyzed. And they are slow learners.

The lesson here is to understand that when you are in that situation, it’s already too late to change. You can’t simply tell your brain that it’s ok, that you can be playful and fail over and over with no consequence.

You have to learn this skill and train BEFORE you are in that situation.

Train Before the Fear Sets in.

Next time you see someone struggling with something you find easy, here is exactly what you should do to improve how well YOU will learn in the future.

  1. Do not acknowledge that they are having a hard time, instead make them comfortable.
  2. As lightly as possible (If you were talking, keep talking) show them exactly what to do.

For example, in the story above you could walk back a few steps to get close to your friends (you are part of their group now) and simple say “We’ve been doing this forever. Here, try putting your foot right here and put a good part of your weight on it — point with you finger. Then bring your other foot here.”

It could seem that you aren’t doing much, but you are actually making a big difference:

  • You are showing them that there is nothing strange about not knowing.
  • You are teaching them how to get better.
  • You are ingraining deep into YOUR mind these two points:
    • Nothing to be ashamed of
    • Try and you will get better.

And if for some reason you can’t help that person out, don’t laugh. Even in your mind. Do the opposite. Notice internally that he is trying, and try thinking about how he could improve. You will be subconsciously setting yourself up for success.

You will be surprised by how profoundly this mindset can impact your learning.

If you apply this technique, I promise you that next time you are the beginner you will see a real difference in your learning, and in the process you will have a lot more fun.

Photo credit: JeanBaptisteM

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