Wouldn’t it be great if we learned something and immediately were good at it? Take one piano lesson and you could play Mozart or Beethoven. Take a drafting class and be able to design an architectural masterpiece. Learn to skate and become an NHL superstar… If it were that easy, everyone would be learning something new every day. The truth is the learning requires practice and practice requires refinement as well as repetition. Mastery of a skill is often a lifelong journey even for the most talented among us.
The human brain is made of two hemispheres, the right and the left. These independent, yet interconnected sections of the brain help operate the human body. Think of them as computer banks, storing and collecting information, experiences and images as we learn and grow. This intricate network pulls out voluntary and involuntary responses as we experience learning. Interestingly, humans can still function if one side of the brain is damaged but they will never be as effective. We need to engage both sides of the brain to master any skill.
You have probably taken an online quiz to determine which hemisphere is more dominant. Those who call themselves “RIGHT BRAIN” tend to be more logical and methodical. Those who identify as “LEFT BRAIN” thinkers are more creative and instinctual. The science continues to evolve on this topic and is called neuroplasticity.
Here are some other characteristics for each side of the human brain:
Left-brained people are said to be more:
- detail- and fact-oriented
- likely to think in words
Right-brained people are said to be more:
- able to see the big picture
- likely to visualize more than think in words
Regardless of how you identify, your brain does engage both sides of your brain when we learn. It has to process information, manage visual input and synthesize audio all at the same time. Engaging both hemispheres is critical for comprehension. “The hemispheres, after all, are not truly separate: communication between them is enabled by commissural fibers, broad white matter tracts through which a constant traffic of neural messages pass from side to side” (Sherman, 2019).
When you first begin to learn a new concept or skill, the two hemispheres battle for supremacy. Neurons in each hemisphere are firing and assigning value or weight to images or information based on past knowledge or experience. Synapse fire and wire together to help absorb the new information the brain is receiving. In seconds your brain begins to decipher the new information and input it is receiving. This decryption doesn’t always go well and humans often experience confusion when learning something new. This is when the right and the side of your brain are at odds with the information because it doesn’t comply with what you already know. This confusion can shift to anxiety or perturbation which is both unsettling and beneficial to the learner.
Perturbation and confusion force both sides of the brain to work together. This conflation of new inputs heightens interest. This interest or curiosity, if properly fed, can translate into in depth learning and ultimately leads to mastery. But before we can’t master any new skill unless we practice and act upon what we have just learned. In order for information to become imprinted on those synapse that are making connections, there must be repetitive action that takes place. Not only does repetition help form memory links it allows us to make the skill easily accessible. You see this with immersive language learning. Classroom exposure to a language is never as effective as living, working and using language everyday in an immersive environment. In an immersive environment you are forced to use trail and error to communicate and when you are successful, you retain the information more readily.
The satisfaction that comes with learning naturally provides us to incentive to ‘rinse and repeat’ the behavior. In business, we are often rewarded for mastering or being proficient in skill. Regardless of how easy or hard it was to get to a level of mastery we strive to duplicate the feeling and the rewards, as we continue to learn to progress. Learning has other side effects as noted in an article on Inc.com:
Learning makes you happier.
“Several studies have shown that the more ambitious goals that we set, the happier we are. And when we decide our own goals, our happiness is not reliant on others. We pick how many hours we practice, and we take ownership over what we achieve. Personal development is a way to guarantee us serenity from within.”
You become a valuable.
“If you can only sell your product, you are limited by your contribution. If you can sell, build and run operations, now you’ve become irreplaceable.”
You stay humble.
“When we are looking to learn as much as possible, there’s less of a chance that we will come off as arrogant. True charmers don’t make themselves look smart, they make others look smart. And when people see that you are trying to learn from them, it makes liking you that much easier.”
You become a coach.
“As a leader of your organization, you need to make learning a part of your culture. A way to start this is by teaching others what you’ve learned over time. You want to become such a great teacher that your company can run itself without you there. When you’ve achieved that, you’ve truly accomplished the state of mastery.”
As a business owner, learning comes fast and furiously at us as we manage all the aspects of our business. Some of the skills come easy, others we learn through costly failures. To minimize that cost, learning has to be consistent and constant. The more you learn, the more you need to put what you learn into practice. Action is the output of learning and without it, the information usually dissipates and fades. This is why top athletes practice individual skills, surgeons get continuing education to learn new techniques, and as business owners we must continue to learn it to truly nail it!
At ActionCOACH the world’s largest business coaching franchise, learning is a core value and a cornerstone of what we teach business owners. Only through growing your knowledge can you become the best business owner you can be. ActionCOACH teaches strategies and uses proven and tested systems to educate business owners worldwide.