When I was 27 years old or so, I met a “old” lawyer (in his mid to late fifties), with two or three Master’s Degrees from various international universities, and a wealth of international experience. All I could think of at the time was “I want to be like him”. I was so in awe of his confidence and knowledge.
Of course, looking back now, I realize that this confidence and knowledge came from all the effort he put into acquiring it and that along the way he was a beginner many times.
But that drove me to attempt to boost my studies and experience in ways I might not otherwise have tried.
People yearn to learn and grow. We get confidence simply from a belief in our abilities, skills and experience. With more skills and experience, the greater our confidence that we can do and learn more.
Of course, as we learn more, we also know what to expect as a beginner entering the unknown. We’ve faced it often and it now holds more curiosity than fear.
As you expand your knowledge, learning something new every day, you recognize that learning the theory is only the first part, you have to put it into practice. You mix your knowledge with experience – that’s where the confidence really comes from!
Along the way, you also learn about your personal strengths and weaknesses of character.
Neuroplasticity – you can teach an old dog new tricks!
Until MRI machines, doctors were convinced that once we reached a certain age the brain stopped making new connections (synapses). We know this to be false – it doesn’t matter your age, your brain is still able to build new connections if stimulated.
A fixed mindset says “I’ve learned everything I can, now I’m stuck”. But that is simply a mindset. You have the ability to grow and learn, no matter what your age or IQ.
Of course, there are all kinds of ways that we can support this:
- Diet, magnesium, ginkgo bill a
- Intermittent fasting
- Motor learning
Whether you learn best from reading, writing, practice or repetition, it’s all about building strong connections between your neurons. Through practice and repetition athletes are able to refine their skills, make their responses seem automatic, as if they were a reflex.
We do the same with our thought patterns, our emotions and even our responses to situations in life. We simply are not always aware that these are trained responses.
And the same way that we have trained ourselves to respond in a particular way, we can learn new responses – whether it be new thought patterns, new emotional responses or simply to pause and reflect before we respond.
You are not “stuck” with the brain you have – it’s possible to rewire the connections and response. To change. To improve. To grow.
What’s your learning style?
One of the best things that i have learnt as an adult is to tune into my learning style. More importantly, that different learning styles use different parts of our brain – and so if you can learn something through various learning styles together, the memory gets wired into different parts of your brain, rather than just being in a single place. This creates a stronger connection.
Allow me to explain a little more. Typically, we identify 7 potential learning styles:
- Social learning – a group
- Individual learning
- Visual – pictures, images and spatial relationships
- Aural – sound and music
- Physical – kinesthetic, which is touch and movement
- Verbal – words, speech and writing
- Logical – logic, reasoning and systems
So, recently, I have been playing and experimenting with this. I have been reading “Think & Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill. But I haven’t limited myself to reading it.
Individual learning – I read it (verbal), and then I put those same chapters on audio (aural) while I sleep (and believe me, I have no trouble sleeping while listening). Then, the next day, I read the same chapter again, but now listening to another audio version (redacted) of the same chapters – the highlights.
Later on that week, I meet up with a friend to discuss the chapters and how they apply to my life (social learning). We don’t just discuss what we read, but the actual application – how do I take what I read and actually do something with this information?
Then, I come back to more individual learning – because I have the workbook and do some journal exercises and writing. I allow myself to draw mind maps of some of the information, rather than just writing words on a page, so that I also get some visual .
If I’m really with it (I admit, not usually), I will listen to the audio while walking or running, so that I also get the movement and not simply static listening. But that doesn’t usually happen at the moment.
What learning styles work best for you? Do you know your learning style? Have you played with it? Been curious about how to approach learning from another angle?
Learning something new builds your self-esteem
Even something as simple as learning your personal learning style builds your self-esteem! It allows you to build on your self-worth and confidence in your abilities – even if it’s your ability to learn.
Take a moment – what is your opinion of yourself and your ability to learn something new? Have you, like me, experimented with different learning styles to find your own?
Additionally, consider the skills you have already acquired during your lifetime – whether those skills be from sports, working or even school. For example, in McDonalds I learned “do you want fries with that?” – but it’s so much more than about French fries! It’s learning to ALWAYS up-sell your services to the client!
Is there anything else that I can help and assist you with?
When was the last time you did a SWOT analysis of your strengths and weaknesses in learning? What do you do well? What might you improve upon?
Now, consider what interests you? What skills are important to you in life and building the life you are interested in having? How would these skills assist you in your life plan?
Possible skills to learn
If you are not sure what kind of skills you need, consider the following three possibilities (which are useful no matter what you plan on doing in life):
- Public Speaking – when you learn public speaking it increases your reach and network, not just the skill that you will learn. You might join toast masters or even a conversation or speaking circle. Whatever you choose, learning how to speak in public can really boost your confidence and self-esteem.
- Starting a business – this is like having a baby and watching it grow. It doesn’t matter how many parenting books you read, until you have the baby, you really have no idea what you are getting yourself into! And as the baby grows, you grow and learn with it! The challenges simply appear, and somehow, you find yourself with a teenager and you’ve survived 100% of the days life has put in front of you so far. But look how far you’ve come! A business will do this to you as well – you will learn so many different skills in all aspects of enterprise!
- Communication skills – there’s nothing like knowing how to have effective difficult conversations. These skills lower your stress, build better relationships and improve productivity.
What skills do you want to add to your inventory of abilities that would boost your confidence and allow you to grow towards your dreams and goals?