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Mirror signal manoeuvreAfter ten years of trying, I have finally got a place in the London marathon!

I’ve completed each of my five previous marathons in a new Personal Best.  The question now is – how can I improve my PB further?  Unless I abandon family and work altogether, I can’t just train harder and longer.

Whilst I share very little else in common with Nick Faldo, the former world no. 1 golfer once faced the same dilemma. Already a multiple major winner, Faldo came to the conclusion that to get any better he had to totally reconstruct his swing.  He spent two years in the proverbial long grass til he merged a winner again.  Why do it?

Sir Nick and I came to the point where we can see with absolute clarity that, however good we were in our respective fields (or not, in my case), we were doing as well as we could with our current method.  We weren’t going to get any better without a fundamentally new way of doing things.

The learning cycleBut the transition is fraught.

Thinking of the learning circle (left), the process of foregoing the ease of unconscious competence (4) in one method to the awkwardness of moving through conscious incompetence (2) to becoming consciously competent (3) and then finally unconsciously competent (4) again, although this time in the new skill, can make the option to just give up overwhelmingly tempting. That successfully making your way through the cycle is never guaranteed only adds to the pain of learning and change.

Only someone utterly convinced of the need to change, and with the foresight to perceive the risks of not changing, would be foolish enough to risk the benefits of the status quo and embark on the process – and keep going.

Like the new driver learning to ‘mirror, signal and manoeuvre’ for the first time, it can feel unimaginable that this new way will EVER become second nature.

I experienced great pain throughout my body as I adopted a new running style (forefoot running, in case you’re interested) and a new training regime – working out in the gym for the first time in my middle-aged life.

The pain has kept me up at night.

Without a coach to show me what to do, and an absolute conviction that I need to get better – I know no other way to do so – I would have gone back to the comfortable ways by now.

How much are you learning as a leader?

As JFK said,

Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.”

How prepared are you to learn?  How convinced are you that you need to learn and change to get further as a leader?

If you are going to lead, you need to be learning and receiving – so stay a learner.  You need others to learn from.

How and from whom are you regularly learning and receiving?



The theme of this blog is taken from Leaders’ Journal: 40 days of self-coaching. Leaders’ Journal is one means to support your learning.