Last month I decided to start doing 10 push-ups everyday, for 30 straight days, as a way of getting back into shape. 10 was easily doable, I wasn’t that out of shape, and I figured that just the act of doing them would get me back into a routine of exercising consistently. To my amazement, I failed miserably.
Actually doing it wasn’t as simple as I imagined in my head. I did 10 the first couple days no problem. Then on day 3 I forgot completely. I remembered that I forgot the next morning on my way to the gym. But, then at the gym I did a lot of other exercises except 10 push-ups. I was a little shocked on as I walked home and told myself that I’d do them once I got home. Once I got home, 5 minutes later 10 push-ups was far from my mind and I didn’t do them.
A similar pattern continued over the next few weeks, where I’d remember in places where I wouldn’t want to do them – subway, shower, out to dinner – and when I was in position to actually do them it just wasn’t part of my mind. Frustration and disbelief were building, and reflecting now, I know were a part of why I was failing.
So, why am I telling this story?
Because the reason I failed is very simple: I hadn’t mastered the application of the Adult Learning Model for myself.
I use it in my coaching nearly everyday, but I have only spent 1/1000th the amount of time actually applying it to myself. I was unconscious of my incompetence.
This realization hit me as I was trying to figure out why I kept failing. I had set a goal, it was in my mind, but yet I couldn’t turn it into action. I was consciously incompetent. I could think about it, but I couldn’t do it. Simple as that.
I also realized that another reason I failed was because I really expected that I could do this quite easily. Who really could blame me, it seemed simple enough – 10 FREAKING PUSH-UPS EVERYDAY FOR 30 DAYS – how hard could that be! Harder than I thought, for a reason that I didn’t know at the outset – I sucked at applying the Adult Learning Model to myself.
All this insight came 8 days ago. I changed my expectation to a goal. My goal being not just to do them, but also figure out how to do them. In figuring out how to do such a simple task, I’ve been amazed at how much better I’ve become at recognizing the subtle differences between conscious incompetence and conscious competence. For me it comes down to action. How quickly am I able to act on a thought. The slower my reaction the less I know it, and just knowing that allows me to force myself to still get it done.
So, how does this apply to you?
Expectations need to be reserved for things that you already have a lot of proof you can do. Everything else, no matter how simple the task, needs to be a goal. And, your goal is not just do what you’re trying to do, it’s to figure out how to do it. Not until you actually achieve a goal will you actually know what it takes to get there. People often believe too strongly that they know exactly what it’s going to take to be successful. They don’t. Not until looking backwards, after already being successful, will you actually exactly what it took. Until that point, keep figuring it out.
I have 22 more days and who knows what else I’ll learn.
Photo Courtesy: DVIDSHUB <--he has some sick photos of soldiers, etc.