My martial arts teacher is a gifted instructor. He has a way of making even difficult concepts of athletics, physics, physiology, psychology and philosophy accessible. He is also a gifted instructor in that he knows where his job as a teacher ends and your job as a student begins. He knows that often his role is to show the student the door… They, however, must decide to walk through it.
One strategy that my teacher uses very effectively is that at the end of every session he will look at the students and ask a simple question… “What did you learn?”
The question is met with a variety of responses. Some people hate to be in the cross-hairs of this question. Some scratch their head. Some have a somewhat bewildered look as they try to boil a 3 hour lesson into a key thought. Others share insights that they had during the session which may or may not be similar to what I experienced during the same course of instruction.
Whatever the response, though, this is where the rubber meets the road. That one question, “What did you learn?” has so many other questions brewing just under its surface. What are you taking away from this? What are you going to practice? How has this time increased your skill? Are you changed?
The typical definition of learning is: “the acquisition of knowledge or skills through experience, study, or by being taught.” I think this is probably how most people think of learning. What if I told you there was another definition of learning, though…
Our friends in the field of psychology played a little trick on us and have redefined the word learning. In psychological circles learning is defined as, “a relatively lasting change in behavior that is the result of experience”.
Wow! Do you see the radical difference in these two definitions? One is simply looking at the acquisition of theoretical knowledge or skill while the other is focused exclusively on behavioral change. No change in behavior, no learning. Do not pass go. Do not collect two hundred dollars.
It might be insightful, it might be interesting, it might be uplifting, it might be whatever… but here’s the question… How is it affecting our behavior? That’s where the rubber meets the road. That’s where the theoretical has it’s impact on our lives.
So those of us who have just completed the MKMMA course are now one week out from the intensive structure of the six month program. One week out of the course or one week into being self-directed in our personal development… I guess it’s just a matter of how you look at it. So… What have you learned this week? According to this “new” definition where behavior must be impacted… what have you learned?
Also, since the behavior change must be long lasting to qualify as learning, what have you learned over the last couple of months? Remember, no lasting behavior change, no learning. If you haven’t done this already since course end I’d encourage you to sit with this idea for a while. Think about it. Don’t be afraid to be in the cross-hairs of the question.
By doing so we can each ensure that the lessons that we have studied, rather than simply being found in binders on shelves (or on index cards), are found in every action, every day of our lives.
So, that being said… What did you learn?