Are you trying to grow your business, but instead of seeing results, you feel like you are running around in circles?
If your answer to this question is “Yes,” you might be caught in a learning loop.
Things change very quickly. It can seem like every time you begin a new project, by the time you are done or ready, there is a better way, or another way, or somebody else is using a different tool, or doing it differently.
Before you know it, you are back to the drawing board to start learning again.
Then nothing really happens.
You don’t get your results.
You become frustrated.
And you’re really, really tired.
You spend time watching what others are doing in your field who are successful.
It gets overwhelming.
Before you know it, you are procrastinating, and avoiding the key activities of your business.
You’re not in your business game any more. The days go by, and nothing happens. You start to feel like giving up.
What is going on here? Suddenly, you are not the fun, engaging, entrepreneurial spirit you were when you started this journey. You are caught in a Learning Loop and it’s time to get out. It’s time to balance your learning with your doing.
THE ANATOMY OF A LEARNING LOOP
There is perceived safety in a learning loop. You are busy. You are learning. And isn’t learning important? Learning is valuable, but learning without consistent action, it does not lead to RESULTS. Success isn’t measured by what you know. Success is measured by results.
To get yourself out of a learning loop, it’s important that you understand the four stages of learning:
1. Unconscious incompetence – You know the saying “ignorance is bliss”? This is the stage they are talking about. When you are unconsciously incompetent about something, you don’t know what you don’t know.
2. Conscious incompetence – The wake up call. Something happens and it draws your attention to the fact that, much to your surprise, you don’t know much – or anything – about something. You start to learn, and you make mistakes. There’s a critical moment of choice here – step back and continue to do things the way you’ve been doing them “for so long”, OR, decide that you are going to continue to move forward.
3. Conscious competence – Now we are getting somewhere. You’ve shifted from incompetence to competence. Your new skill still takes a lot of effort and concentration, because everything is still new. Results take longer to bring into fruition, but you are moving forward.
4. Unconscious competence – You have so much practice at your new skill that it has become second nature. You can perform other tasks at the same time and can teach someone else how to do it, like your employee or assistant..
THE CHALLENGE OF KEEPING UP
The challenge of today’s business world is that by the time you get to stage 4 – unconscious competence – the world has moved on, or you become aware of something else you don’t know.
Many people get stuck in a loop between conscious competence and conscious incompetence. Just as you are starting to get good at something, there’s a “new and better way” or you notice someone else doing it differently. You never get to the implementation stage and this is a TRAP, especially if you are a perfectionist. A perfectionist thinks “It won’t be good enough! I have to learn more before I can move forward,” and retreats back to conscious incompetence. Back at the drawing board, you get busy perfecting what you have already learned.
Perfectionism is based in fear. The insidious fear of not being good enough, or being seen as an imposter, keeps you from moving forward in the direction of your results.
Success is an accumulation of RESULTS. Results are an accumulation of the right things done over and over again long enough to create an impact. Most of the time, the right things are little things that you already know how to do.
3 STRATEGIES TO BREAK THE LEARNING LOOP AND GET RESULTS
1. Balance your learning with your doing.
Have a learning strategy that complements your regular business activities. Both are important to your long term success. Try scheduling learning appointments in your calendar, and don’t allow yourself to go overboard to the detriment of growing your business.
2. Adjust your expectations
Save your expectations of being unconsciously competent for your area of expertise – the product or service you are being paid to provide. Even then, beware of staying in the same place for too long and finding that everyone, including your customers, has moved along without you. Give yourself permission to make mistakes when you are doing something new.
3. Get some help
If you’re determined to take a quantum leap in your life or business, it’s not likely to happen quickly enough without leveraging the expertise and experience of someone who has gone before you. Six months ago, when I wanted to learn how to develop a business online, I hired another coach to help me out.
Full disclosure: At first, I did try to figure it out on my own, imitating what I saw others doing. But I wasn’t seeing the results I thought I should be getting and time kept marching on. It turns out there was more to it than meets the eye (I was unconsciously incompetence) so I got myself some help. The worst thing you can do is stay stuck, thinking you can teach yourself EVERYTHING. Sometimes you have to make an investment in your results up front.
1. Get clear on where you are at with what you are learning. There is no shame in admitting what you don’t know, or that you don’t know what you don’t know. (Breathe, Perfectionists, breathe….) Everyone who has the desire to play big ends up in this position more than once.
2. Take Action. Commit to moving forward because most of the time done is better than perfect.
3. Come into our Live the Big Picture Facebook Group, and participate in our ongoing conversation about business growth and personal growth. Being an entrepreneur and leader can be lonely. Connecting online with like-minded people balancing learning with doing is a great way to get some support while you’re stepping up to your challenges.