How’s learning working for you?

Photo of a white board to-do list with LEARN written in red markerDo you read leadership books?

(Or, really, any type of professional or personal development material.)

How’s that working for you?

I read a lot. And I’ve noticed that if I take the time to do the exercises from a book offering concepts and ideas for my business or personal improvement, two things happen.

First, I often get bogged down. I read a chapter, and then I have to stop and do the exercise. If that’s not readily possible in the moment, the moment tends to slip away…and weeks later, I realize I never got back to the book.

Second, even if I do the exercises, I often have a hard time translating the material into everyday life.

My clients experience the same challenge, and I’m betting you’ve been there too. For instance, who hasn’t been to a workshop or conference, come back all excited to implement ideas and tools that made perfect sense in the classroom, and then … huh? How do I make this work?!

One of my clients explained a concept to one of his employees multiple times. Here’s what you’re doing, here’s why it’s a bad idea, and here’s what you need to change. Multiple. Times.

She wasn’t getting it.

He and I talked about his plans for working with her, and he told me he was going to explain it again.

I said – No. She knows the concept. What she doesn’t know is how to apply the concept in her work – how to actually make the change he’s asking for.

So instead, we created an action plan to help her modify her behavior. And within one day – one day, after weeks and months of mutual frustration – she was observing herself, catching herself, and coming up with creative ideas for how and what to do differently.

Reinforcing concepts is sometimes necessary.

Helping people implement those concepts in real time – what my husband calls “game speed” – is essential.

What have you learned recently that you’re having a hard time implementing?

What small shifts can you make in your day-to-day work that will help guide you in the right direction?

It’s not always easy to identify what you can do differently. If you have a trusted colleague, friend, mentor, or a professional coach, they can help.

Whatever you decide to do, notice that it’s absolutely normal to experience this implementation challenge. There’s nothing wrong with you; it’s just a gap between intellectual knowledge and in-the-moment action. And that’s totally fixable.