Why Learning Requires Trust

Recently my good friend Punit and I decided to take up golf.  I started out by going to the driving range and renting a club.  A week later I bought my first set of golf clubs.  Two weeks after that I’m having a great time with the sport.

Cloudy day at the driving range – Practice, Practice, Practice!

This has been an incredibly valuable experience for me because I have never been so aware of the process of learning.  I am paying attention to everything I do, listening to my instructor very carefully, and practicing.  However, there are other very important ingredients to learning.  The one I want to focus on today is trust.

Our golf instructor, Jeff Ward at Twin Willows Par 3 Golf Course in Lincoln Park, NJ, explained to us how to position ourselves, how to move, and how we should visualize our stroke.  In effect, he equipped us with all of the ingredients and explained how to mix them.  He then said something that caught my attention in a big way – “now trust in everything you are doing and swing.”  It hit me right away; this is exactly what I tell my math students when I am coaching them through their learning issues.  And here I am, on the student side of the experience hearing the same thing from Jeff.

Well, during my practice session I took Jeff’s advice.  I positioned myself near the ball, gripped my club the way he taught me too, bent over slightly at my hips, bent my knees a little, took the club back just like he explained, and swung (leading with the hips of course!).  As I went through this whole process I trusted the steps and did not allow myself to get distracted by any one step.  I tuned all thoughts out of my head except for the ball in front of me.  I wasn’t thinking about possibly messing up or how hard I would hit the ball or anything but simply swinging at the ball in front of me.  Once I did everything he taught me, I simply needed to trust in the steps.

In case you are wondering how that swing went – I missed spectacularly.  I didn’t hit the ball at all.  Turns out I moved my head, haha.  Jeff did tell me not to move my head.  Well, I lined up again in front of the ball, did everything the same except this time I kept my head still.  I heard that awesome cracking sound the club (my 9 iron) and ball make on impact and watched it beautifully sail high in the sky about 150 yards away.  It felt great!  The key was trusting in the steps.

Trust is important because it allows you the opportunity to tune all distractions out of your mind  and focus strictly on the goal.  Trust prevents you from over focusing on any one step in the process that might increase your risk of error.  The lesson I learned in this experience was that if I make sure to trust the steps and lessons, I can learn much more quickly and effectively.

Do you trust yourself enough to give new ventures your best shot?  Are you holding back?  Perhaps “choking” when you step up to a challenge?  Check to see if you trust in the steps enough.  If you don’t, simply trust in the steps and let the performance flow right out of you.  Your attempts won’t be perfect right away, but trusting gives way to the most effective learning.

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