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The Golden Rules

July 4, 2007

Don’t you find it annoying when it takes you a little while to figure out something that was fairly obvious all along? That is exactly how I felt when I listened to a couple of Psychology lessons. Although it felt like I was being told something that I already knew, it actually confirmed that I had figured out something that I should have been told from the very start.

There are four principles that stand true for any person, in any training and under any training conditions. They may sound like common sense, but it constantly amazes me at how often they are overlooked.

Rule #1 We learn better when we are motivated

If there is something in it for me, I will pay more attention. If it is something I like or something that I find interesting, I will remember more of it. Think back to when you heard those magic motivational words “You will be tested on this” and the reaction it got.

I am also astounded at how quickly we can become an expert in medicine, law or mechanics as soon as life deals us a new misfortune.

Rule #2 We learn better when we can observe the results

The magic of cause and effect can have lasting effects on person. I’ve electrocuted myself, picked up a hot coal and fired a spear gun at a tree. I did each of these only once because I witnessed first hand that a $9 multimeter can’t handle 240V mains power, skin does melt and a blunt spear bounces off a Ghost Gum with no perceivable loss in kinetic energy. The body is also very good at ‘sealing the deal’ with the appropriate emotional peak or trough.

Rule #3 We learn better when we can associate the learning with something else

If you can associate the new skill or knowledge with something you already know, the assimilation is easier. How often have you said in conversation “it’s like the (insert object here) but a bit thinner, smaller, wider, taller, fatter etc… ” Learning to drive a truck is easier when you have driven a car and cooking is a lot like chemistry (well maybe that one is obvious).

Rule #4 We learn better when we practice

I think this one is a ‘no brainer’.

But these are so obvious …

Well if so, can you honestly answer no to all of these questions?

Have you ever

  • sat in a course and wondered why you were there?
  • been told “you just do this” without being shown or told why?
  • been in training and the trainer just assumed you new nothing?
  • got something right and not known exactly how you did it”

As a trainer, have you ever contributed to one of these?

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