Learning is not a check the box, one-and-done proposition
It might sound crazy, but I’m seriously considering enrolling in a marketing program that I have already taken before. It’s a month-long challenge. When I took it ten months ago, I only got through half of it before I stopped taking action on each day’s assignments. At that point, I merely watched the video lessons. After the challenge had ended, my access to all the materials would go away unless I paid for ongoing access. So, I purchased them to maintain my access so that I could go back and review them on my own, at any time.
But why would I pay again for something I’ve already taken and to which I have access? This doesn’t make sense?
I’m surprised by my willingness to even consider this. Indeed, the investment is not huge, but it is an outlay of money, nonetheless, for something I already own.
Why am I giving this a second thought?
The answer is twofold: accountability and neuroplasticity of the brain.
Yes, I can certainly take this course on my own any time I want to and not pay another cent for it. In the ten months since I went through the program have I done that?
No, not completely.
I have accessed a few lessons here and there and they have been helpful. However, I have not completed a product that was ready to be marketed (the promise of the program). There is value in completing. And there is value in going through a course with others to keep me engaged and motivated.
I am the kind of person who typically follows through. The reason I only completed half of the activities was that I was unclear on what I wanted to offer and found the idea of creating a mock product a little wasteful. So when I got to the step where I’d have to start spending money for something I would never end up offering, I stopped doing the work.
I’m now at a place where that barrier is no longer there. I have several ideas to bring to market, and the accountability of this 30-Day challenge feels like it could be right for me, right now. This is my case for accountability.
Before I set out to learn French five years ago, I viewed education and learning as a check the box process. I could collect degrees and gain bragging rights about the things I’d accomplished and learned. But last year, living in France way outside of my element, I recognized that my sometimes casual approach to learning French was giving me erratic results. I realized I needed more structure and consistency. So I signed up for a French class. I felt uncomfortable, and even a bit scared as I sat in a classroom for the first time in over twenty-five years. However, I knew it was something I needed to do. I also committed to taking a minimum of three 10-question French quizzes each day online.
I came to see the importance of repetition in my ability to learn and apply what I was learning. The weeks I was consistent in doing the quizzes and reviewing what was taught in class that day, I could tell my French was improving. And when I missed several days and then came back to it, I felt I was regressing. It seemed harder.
While the quizzes I took were very repetitive focusing on the same grammar lessons over and over until I reached a certain level of competence, the reinforcement that this practice gave me worked.
The light bulbs started turning on for me then. I might have taken a lesson and even learned something that day, but it was in the repetition of the topic that made the lesson stick. It gave me the confidence to use what I learned, and I saw the progress I wanted. It felt miraculous.
Neuroscientists talk about brain plasticity or neuroplasticity. This is our brains’ ability to change over time and create new neural pathways that allow us to learn new things, or lose what we don’t reinforce. When I first heard about brain plasticity, it made sense on an academic level. After getting serious about learning French and buckling down, I not only believed it in theory, I saw it happening in real life.
The beauty of neuroplasticity is that as our brains change, we change. When we practice something, again and again, our brains’ grey matter changes, and so does how we experience the world. When we continue to reinforce what we are learning, we are doing it from a different vantage point because we are different. We can incorporate our new experiences and our new selves into what we are doing. We are smarter, wiser, and have different perspectives because of our practice.
Heraclitus sums this up beautifully: “No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.”
In considering the benefits of retaking this marketing program, I contemplate the accountability the program will offer and the neuroplasticity of my brain and how I am different. I also bring into account my emotions, my core values, and my true need, which I discuss in my previous article, “Turn Confusion into Clarity in 3 Simple Steps.”