Most people in the industry feel the need to learn as much as possible to get ahead of the game, which, in theory, is a great idea. However, there is a way to optimize your learning experience to be the best you can be without spending too much money and/or wasting precious hours of studying. In this article, I will highlight different mistakes I’ve seen too many times over the years along with strategies to help you invest your time and money wisely. I’ve been guilty of lots of these myself and hope it will help you fast track your learning and help you reach your full potential faster.
1. Don’t forget everything you were doing
The most common mistake people make is, when they learn a new method in a course or seminar, they forget about everything they were doing before and try to use exclusively the new information that was provided. Don’t forget that you were getting good results prior to learning about this new method. On top of being the exact same as everybody else that took the course, you are now letting go of everything you worked hard to learn and master. Instead, you should go in to gather new informations that could be a great addition to your own personal method. By doing that, you will create a much better way of working with your clients and have a bigger toolbox to work with when a problem presents itself. But THE MOST important impact is that you will differentiate yourself from the competition by using a method that mixes all the best information you were able to come across and create your own unique style.
2. Don’t spread yourself
This one is especially true for new professionals in the industry. There are so many great subjects in our field that it is hard not to want to learn everything. People will often feel they are missing out on something if they don’t use this strategy. The problem is that by doing this, you will be at best average at everything you are trying to learn. You will sound great at a coffee shop or after your yoga class chatting with people, but won’t really be helping anybody the way you could if you were focusing your attention on only the one or two subjects that resonate with you the most. Take a guy like Louie Simmons from Westside Barbell, he doesn’t try to have his guys perform the new stretching trend or try to fix their gut with some kind of detox. All that matters to him is getting his guys stronger in the 3 big lifts and he sure knows a lot about how to get there (results are there to prove it). He probably knows about nutrition and rehab but prefers to concentrate on lifting because he knows some people will help his guys faster and better than he could himself. Focus your attention on what really passionates you and surround yourself with people that can help you with the rest.
3. Apply what you learn right away
Some people are afraid of applying what they’ve learned because they feel they don’t know enough. You don’t need to be an expert or have done all of the different courses or seminars on a subject to be good enough to use what you learned. Just stay within the limits of what you’ve learned and everything will be fine. The only way to get the most of your learning is to be able to apply it right away! Theory is great but it won’t help you much when you have a client in front of you. Before you jump to another course or seminar, make sure you were able to master and apply what you thought was interesting in the previous one. Most people are addicted to knowing more and more but only use a fraction of what they payed to learn. You lose what you don’t use. If you don’t feel confident at first, try it for free on some clients or keep them for an extra 15 minutes at the end of their appointments. They will love the extra attention and it’s going to help you learn much more than you can imagine.
4. Read to understand
Take time to read! Reading is essential to discover new concepts and expand your mind to new ideas. But make sure you understand what you read! Take the time you need so that the information really sinks in. Don’t just flip pages as fast as possible to be able to say that you’ve read a bunch of books in the last months or years. If you don’t understand what’s in the book, you might as well not read it! Something that works really well is reading with a kindle or any other device that you can easily save notes on. (personally I use a kindle just because it doesn’t blast my eyes with backlights like a tablet would, although nothing beats the feeling of a good old book!) Once you are done reading the book, read all the notes, over and over again, until you can understand everything that the author wanted to share with you. Read it again a couple weeks later. You will probably grab a piece of information that wasn’t obvious the first time and you will see new ways to apply the concepts.
5. Be open minded
Don’t fall in love with the latest theory you learned or charismatic presenter you’ve met. The perfect way to do something doesn’t exist yet! If it was we would all be bored to death and/or out of jobs…. Lots of people start following a method or “guru” and will systematically discredit everybody that doesn’t share their views. The problem is that lots of trainers or therapists have great results using a wide variety of techniques, this means they must be doing something right. Instead of bashing everybody that is different, try to understand what they are doing to get those good results. Using this strategy, you will find new theories and concepts to add to your own toolbox and will be able to recreate their successes and maybe get even better results by combining it to what you already know. Learning from different people with different backgrounds is probably the fastest way to understand the big picture!