Friday, August 26, 2011

Learning and Teaching to avoid plateaus

Ever meet someone who has plateaued? I am an avid swing dancer. I often find dancers who reached a level competence and never grow any further. Its like they decided, “Yep, I am good enough and that’s all I need to do to get by.” They fail to realize that getting by is not the goal. The goal is constant improvement. One key way to never reach a plateau is to remember the essential techniques and to keep learning and teaching.

When we are actively growing in an area we are identifying the essential techniques that make others successful. We are sponges and driven to find out why those a head of us are so good. Your senses are keen in the beginning which later will become dull due to apathy or self confidence. This is the time that you need to be documenting each essential technique. 

Each time you have an Aha moment and record it in a blog or journal. This is not a diary that little girls keep, this is a journal which you will go back and read regularly to remind yourself of the essential techniques which made you successful. When you find technique that works, note it down. When you find something that didn’t work, note it down. Note down important quotes you read or hear.  Sketch your ideas and then any comments on them.

These notes are not just techniques; they are a documentation of your passion. Later in your career, go back and read your notes. These will remind you of the little things that made you successful. The little improvements usually are around the basics that you discover early in your career. For example, a swing dancer needs to focus on connection with their partner and listening to the music. When you move along in your career you’ll get distracted by the politics and forget those essential skills.

Writing down your ideas is a good start, but the next step is to share those. Sharing what you learn will concrete the lessons in your own mind.  Sharing can come in several flavors. You can either teach a group or mentor an individual. You can also write a blog, article or book!

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