The 3 “P”s to Learning a New Skill

I felt like a kid again. The heavy black guitar case gripped tightly in my right hand. The music book in my left hand. The last time I carted around an instrument to a lesson was in middle school. And yet, here I was, 33 years old and going to my first guitar lesson in over 20 years. And. I. Was. So. Excited!

I WONDER…when is the last time you did something new? Something out of the normal, day-to-day routine?  Maybe you joined a new social group to meet different friends? Or you tried your hand at learning a new sport? In her book Thrive, Arianna Huffington describes the four pillars of a healthy life: wellbeing, wisdom, wonder and giving.  Arianna encourages us to slow down and take time to sit back and rediscover our sense of wonder that we seem to rush past each day.


When was the last time...

You learned a new skill?

When life gets a little too “stuck in a rut,” we humans are just great at reaching out and throwing ourselves into a brand new situation…totally outside of our comfort zone…with no idea what to expect.


Is that not you?

If you are one of those adventure me. I hear sky diving over the Grand Canyon is great this time of year.

But if that’s not you, and you would like to try a little something new to spice up the weeks between now and New Years, here are three helpful “P”s to get you started.

 1. People   

We are a product of our environment. Whether it is the books we read, the food we eat, or the people we spend time with, these factors influence our choices. When you are choosing a new endeavor, consider the person that will be teaching you. Do you trust his or her knowledge? Is she someone with whom you are excited to spend some of your precious time?  

Many of my clients feel like they have a good grasp on their health goals, but it wasn’t until they trusted me (and themselves) to guide them down their new path that they found traction and tasted success. Find someone who has done what you want to do, link arms with them, and go!

When the new guitar center opened up in my neighborhood, I felt like it was time. I trusted the expertise of my teacher. I knew I had to learn that dreaded F chord, and being accountable to someone meant I was going to do it…calluses and all!

2. Passion

OK, this one seems obvious. Why do something that doesn’t interest you? Yes, passion is great. It fuels the fire and pushes you forward when you might find it discouraging as you learn a new skill. But here’s a thought…what if you don’t know what you don’t know?  Deep. I know.

It’s kind of like when you were a kid and your mom said, “Here’s some asparagus for dinner.” Your response may have sounded like this, “But mom (you remember that whiny voice?), I don’t like asparagus!” How do you know if you have never tried it?

Find some local clubs in your area or try your hand at a new sport, hobby or activity you have never done before. I grew up singing and playing instruments, but I didn’t know if I was going to like playing the guitar until I opened that case. Grabbed my pick. And went after that elusive F chord. Seriously…that chord is frustrating!

3. Patience

Patience and persistence go together like peanut butter and jelly (if you ignore the fact that a peanut is a legume and is best when not paired with a fruit, but you get my point).  Remember when you learned how to ride a bike? Or cook? It can be so frustrating! Especially if you are learning to snowboard under the ski lift and EVERYONE can see you fall. I am speaking hypothetically…of course…that has never happened to me. Ahem. Moving on.

The more you practice and stay consistent with something, the more chance you have at developing the skills needed to really enjoy it.  This is especially true if you have a good coach or mentor (see point #1: People).

One of my favorite quotes is from yogi Bryan Kest who says, “It’s not what you do in this practice that matters. It’s HOW you do what you do.” So, as you cook (and maybe burn) your first gourmet meal, or smack the water face first while wake boarding (again…I am speaking hypothetically here…ouch), remember that you had to walk before you learned to run. So breathe. Smile. And love all the bumps and embarrassments along the way.

Because one day…you WILL nail that F chord. And it will sound so sweet.

Rock on my friends. Rock on.