Free to learn

I recently attended some very different training. I?m used to going to highly technical Java training, to portal seminars and to IT seminars, but over the last couple of years I?ve tried some different stuff.

And it has been great. Not only have I learned stuff that?s way different from what I normally learned, but I?ve also learned something new about learning itself.

How different was this training? Well, I started out with a week-long leadership course. Then a 3-day course in general consulting skills, and a 2-day course in conflict management. Then it got really weird. Over the last 6 months I?ve been to :
* A one-week course in modern dance (yes, the stuff where you roll around on the floor a lot)
* A 1-day course in painting (I painted a still life of a book, a boot and a banana)
* Evening classes in creative writing (I?ve written a great short story)

All of this is way new to me, and I learned something very interesting. Since I had no experience whatsoever in any of these fields, I was totally free to simply learn. I had no expectations that I would be good or bad at it. I could simply try it, and see what happened. This gave me a freedom to experiment, which allowed me to learn a lot more. It also made the process a lot more fun.

The painting-class was especially interesting. I?v always told myself that I can?t draw, and I certainly can?t paint. Before the class started, I actively tried to rid myself of that idea, and it worked to some degree. I could even use the fact that I have no experience. I told myself that ?I?ve never painted a single picture in my life, so I?m free to do really badly?. This gave me a tremendous freedom in that class. And my picture turned out to be really good!

Normally when I attend training, I subconsciously compete to be the best. I want to be the cleverest and the fastest learner present. It?s a trait that?s been implanted in me since my school days. And which is only exacerbated in higher education. This means that I can take few risks. It also means there?s less time to enjoy the learning. Ultimately, less learning takes place.

So what I?ve learned is, that when I took the pressure and expectations out of the learning process, I had more fun and learned more. And this is probably true for everyone.

If you want, try it yourself the next time you attend some form of training. Consciously rid yourself of any expectations you may have for the training. Try to get rid of the idea that you will either do well or badly. Simply do the best you can, and see how you do. I think you?ll compete less, learn faster, and have a lot more fun.

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