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One of the new beliefs I was testing was "You can learn anything," and this was also supported by the fact I had started to read self-help books and get some interesting results by applying what I had learned. I was still a novice but my eyes had been opened to a world I didn't even know existed.
Can you really learn anything?
I can remember my first ever self-help book as if it were yesterday! I was sat on the Copacabana beach on my own. The sun was shining down on fit Brazilian bodies as they strolled around me and I was head down in a book feeling like I was Alice tumbling down the rabbit hole or Neo taking the red pill in the Matrix! My whole mindset and world was shifting under me as I sat on that beach reading.
That one book opened up my eyes to self-development and I remember going to the English book stores in the mall in Rio looking for the next book and buying Tony Robbins' other books and getting absorbed in them as well.
That first book was Notes From a Friend by Tony Robbins, and is a short read with some entry- level self-development information that at the time ROCKED my world!
20-something years later and books still have a huge influence on my life and I am still a believer that you can learn anything!
My brother's point revolved around things where there were physical limitations. I was 21 at that point and he asked, "Could I learn to become the best footballer there ever was?" And he had a point, I was a little bit late for that one and we didn't know if I had the genetics for it. There are certain sports and things where genetics do play a role, but for most of us it is nothing to do with genetics - it is all to do with:
The Cost of Learning
There is a cost to learn anything new. The cost is not always financial; in fact the financial cost is normally irrelevant or small (the price of a book). It is the cost of energy, the cost of time, the cost of effort and more that stops people from learning new things.
Let me give you an example where I choose not to pay the cost of learning something new. In my mid-twenties, I joined Toastmasters and fell in love with it. I started to win a few competitions and really invested my time and energy into learning how to public speak. I put many hours into it, reading the books, studying the YouTube videos and buying DVD courses to learn. I managed to get myself to the UK and Ireland final of the Toastmasters Humorous Speaking contest and had an incredible time in Ireland performing there. I didn't win but it lit a fire within me to learn how to make people laugh. I bought books on humour, I went on a stand -up comedy course, I bought a DVD called I Can Make You Funnier by Next Week, and I learned.
You can even see my first ever stand-up comedy set here:
I can't believe I even wore a suit back then!
So I learnt and I wasn't the best, but I was getting better and better and I felt there was a path if I wanted it to being a stand-up comedian.
As I thought through that path though I got less excited. The cost of being a stand-up comedian was stage time. And stage time meant travelling to London to do 5- 10 minute stand -up slots as many of the weeknights as I could, and every weekend. I needed to practice my art. The cost was spending the time that my wife would be at home after work away from her and travelling an hour and a half each way to perform for 5 minutes! I wouldn't have seen my wife!
The cost of learning that skill and getting into that world was too great for me and I parked my stand-up comedy aspirations there and focused instead on learning speaking skills to become a professional trainer. That I could do during working hours and be with my wife after work.
The cost of being a stand-up comedian for me was putting in the hours and doing it whilst my wife was at home. I was not prepared to pay the cost!
I really do believe you can learn anything but there can be a steep cost at times depending on what you choose to learn.
Can anyone do anything?
This brings us onto the next part of the cost, and that is changing your mindset to believe it is possible. Could Alan Donegan have actually become a stand-up comedian? Did he have it in him?
We'll never know!
Whilst I didn't pay the price to be a comedian, I did learn a lot from my studies and still use humour in every single workshop I run. I believe that if you are laughing then you are learning and I work hard to make sure my audiences have a great time as they learn at my workshops. I learned some simple ways to write jokes (like the triad pattern, which I will teach you in a future post) and make people laugh.
I truly believe I could have made it.
Compare that to a lot of the participants who come to our Rebel Business School workshops. They turn up and the first thing they say to me on Website Wednesday is, "I am not good with technology" or "I am a technophobe." What chance do you think they have of being able to learn how to create a website with those beliefs and that self-image before the start!
This next quote really, really changed my world! Henry Ford said:
Whether you think you can or think you can't, you are right
The people who come along to our courses saying they can't build a website are absolutely right before they even start! Those beliefs stop them from even trying! They look at a laptop and say they can't do it, they tell me it is impossible before they start! They are stopping themselves from learning before they have even started.
I know it is a bullshit belief, I know it is utter crap and that anyone can learn it. I have been doing this long enough to see all sorts for all walks of life build websites; we had one lady at a recent workshop that had had 5 heart attacks and been in a coma for a month before the course and she still turned up under special supervision from her doctors and never having build a website proceeded to throw herself at it and just learn! She believed it was possible and she had found the motivation to get going and JUST DO IT! She nearly died and that motivated her to stop wasting time and just have a go. She just started building and made it happen.
People say all sorts of things to me:
If you believe any of that shit then it will stop you from ever trying. You have to believe it is possible to give yourself even the chance that it is possible.
Now I am not saying that just thinking you can do it is enough. You can't just believe you can and then it is so! You still have to do the hard work, you still have to learn, and it still might be frustrating! The one thing I can say with certainty is that if you believe it isn't possible then you will never even start and you definitely won't succeed.
Believing it is possible allows you to have a go. Believing it is impossible stops you from ever having achieving it.
I know that if I believe I can do it then I am at least giving my chance at bat, a chance to have a go, a chance that I will prove myself right!
So my belief is that given the time, support and education, I can learn to do anything. It might not be true but it helps me to be successful in life.
Motivation to learn
How are you going to drag your ass up off the couch and get going learning something if you don't have motivation and energy?! You have to find the motivation and energy to learn. If you don't have that then you are going to struggle.
Where do you find motivation from? How do you get started? How do you get energy?
You don't get motivated to do something; you get motivated by doing something
So many people I have met wait for motivation to hit them. They sit on the couch watching mindless television waiting for the motivation to hit! At the weekends they complain of just not feeling motivated; in the evenings they complain of no motivation and so they don't do anything.
If you wait for motivation to hit you then you are going to be waiting a LONG, LONG time! Motivation is not a weird thing that occasionally floats by the house and thinks, I am going to give some of myself to this person tonight. It is not a noun, it is a not a thing, it is not something I can put in my wheelbarrow!
It is a state. It is a way of feeling in a given moment. It is a feeling. The question is, how do you generate that feeling within yourself so you can get on and do things? How do you generate motivation from nothing? One thing I know for certain is that sitting on the couch is not the way to generate motivation!
Here are some of my favourite strategies for generating motivation:
Motivation and energy come from so many different places. These are just a few I use to get myself going and create the energy to be able to build businesses, get to financial independence and make the world a better place.
Motivation won't suddenly show up in your life; you have to generate it and use it to get things done.
Getting through the DIP
Does it always go perfectly the first time you do something? Is there a learning curve to new things? Do you immediately get the results you desire?
Sometimes there is a rather large lag between when you start putting energy into something and when you see the results. You don't go to the gym once and then you have massive muscles (I know, I have tried!) It takes time.
I want you to be prepared that when you start learning, it is going to take a while for the results to show. You have to be prepared to push through this lag between effort and results, this dip, to make it through to the other side where you want to be.
Let's look at a few common goals and how long the dip/lag might be
Prepare yourself for a period of time after you start learning anything or doing anything that will be tough and you won't get the results you want immediately! You have to push through this period to get to the results on the other side.
You can learn anything
"You can learn anything" is a belief. It is not one that is true or false, it is one that is useful. This allows me to get going, to work on my goals, and helps me to make progress.
I have stopped arguing over things like this as there will always be someone who believes the opposite to be true and I don't really care what they think at this stage because I know that this belief has a positive impact on my life and the people around me.
Is it true you can learn anything? Who cares!
I believe it and I am going to have a go!
I would love to know your thoughts! Write me a comment or share the article below!