Its official, I am a newbie again at 56 ½ years young! Last week the 2022 class of apprentice instructors at the Pilates Centre of Cincinnati met for the first time to embark on our training adventure together.
Our guides on this journey are our teacher, the inspirational Sheila Khun, and mentor: Studio owner Kelli Green, who’s care for and commitment to both her clients and teaching team is evident in everything she does. I am excited to get started, to get to know my fellow students and to be learning again.
At the same time there is the familiar sense of trepidation as the reality of what I have taken on comes into focus. How exactly will I fit in hundreds of hours of training along with the additional study and practice whilst also running a coaching business and caring for my family? What changes and compromises will I need to make to achieve my goal, and what support will I need? What painful moments lie ahead that will lead to the personal growth required to go from client to confident instructor?
I don’t have all the answer to these questions right now, but I trust they will reveal themselves in the order I need, as I progress one class at a time.
Confidence in our ability to learn
It is challenging to start something new and remain confident in our ability to learn when all the new information feels overwhelming. As we start to understand how much we don’t know it can feel like we will never close the gap between where we are now and being confident enough to stand up in front of a group and teach. Having been a trainer at various times during my long career in the corporate world, I understand firsthand the difference between being personally competent and being able to teach others. Remembering all the steps it takes to learn new concepts, practice, review and improve and then being able to break these down in a way that enables each student to use those steps to build their own bridge from beginner to novice to master.
If you are a driver, do you recall when you learned how uncomfortable, terrifying, and exhausting it was? Learning to coordinate your mind and body in new ways as well as understand the rules, anticipate the actions of others and judge speed and distance knowing that your safety depends upon it! Now you no longer consciously think about driving, where would you start to teach all that to someone who has never sat behind the driver’s wheel before?
What I am holding onto is all the other times I have embarked on something new even though I felt daunted and how I stayed the course, put in the hours and asked for help when I needed it. Slowly moving from feeling the discomfort of knowing what I don’t know to being sufficiently competent I can achieve a state of flow: focused on the outcome not the mechanics of how I achieve it.
Embracing the role of beginner
Being a student again requires humility and it can be a little hard on our ego, especially if as adults we are accomplished in other areas of our lives and over-identify with our expertise. If we have made that expertise part of our sense of identity, rather than seeing it as a skill set we have acquired, it can be difficult to tolerate the mistakes that diminish our sense of status or self-worth. I learned this uncomfortable lesson when I started training as a Life Coach.
At the time, being a psychotherapist was such an important part of my identity that it got in the way of my learning how to coach. I had to let go of that part of me and surrender to the experience of stumbling through sessions and evaluations to make space to learn the new skills. It was a hard lesson for many of my coaching colleagues too. The expertise that brought us to coaching, that we wanted to help others with, was the very thing we had to let go of to become effective coaches rather than consultants and advisors. We didn’t have to lose our original skills; we had to learn not to lead with them to allow space for our clients to learn in their own way and in their own time.
To be a student is to be in a learning state, not a state of perfection, and our most valuable learning often comes out of the mistakes we make. Trying to avoid the discomfort of making a mistake gets in the way of learning and our ability to ask for help or further explanation if we need it.
Deciding in advance how to be
As a coach, when I work with clients embarking on something new, I invite them to decide how they want to be. What traits and attributes they want to dial up or down to show up as the best version of themselves in their new undertaking. This creates the opportunity for them to be intentional in their approach, which reduces the likelihood of repeating old patterns of reacting when challenged that will get in the way of their success.
So, how do I want to be as a student again? I intend to dial up my self-compassion and sense of playfulness. Acknowledging this is a big undertaking for me I will focus on the step in front of me not on the gap between where I am today and my goal. I will look to accomplished teachers as inspiration and role models not as people to compare myself to unfavorably as I struggle as a novice to master new exercises or articulate clear instructions. By giving myself permission to play and have fun I can experiment and laugh at my mistakes. I can see them as opportunities to learn and deepen my understanding as I seek to find the balance between taking my practice seriously and myself not so much.
In this way I hope to set myself up to enjoy the process of learning a new skill and seeing myself and my classmates progress each week. Celebrating our wins together. Will I be this ideal version of myself every week, of course not, I am human, but these thoughts will be what I can return to on tough days, when just showing up to class on time will be a major achievement. And, yes Kelli, these are the thoughts that will enable me to “Keep Going”!
What new adventure is calling you?
As I keep you updated with my progress (and struggles) I wonder what new undertaking might be calling you and what thoughts you have about this?
If you would like support to incorporate something new in your life and overcome self-doubt or other obstacles in your way, please reach out through the Unburden website and remember: my happy place is helping you get to yours.
As always, if you are interested in understanding how coaching or therapy can help you to create the life you want please connect with me at https://www.unburdennow.com/contact
Today I am thankful that ...
The rain that found a hole in my roof last night came through the ceiling in the bathroom via a light fixture directly above the toilet bowl, landing tidily in the water without creating any clean up or additional water damage ... what are the chances?