On being a novice again…

I've been riding a motorbike for just over a year now and although I have happily mastered the art of going in a straight line, corners are another matter entirely. This weekend I went out with some riders who all have better bikes and more experience than me. On the straight bits I was fine but on the twisty country lanes it all came apart.

There I was, frozen with fear, making mistakes and trailing behind like a complete beginner sure that I was letting everyone down. It wasn't very nice. I guess, like a lot of people, I usually avoid putting myself in situations where I am a complete novice. It brought back all the confusion, uncertainty and not a little amount of fear that I used to feel with things like driving a car or speaking in public.

What could I do? When we finally stopped, my options seemed to be:

At the last moment I remembered that I was a Coach and did the only thing I really could do. I asked them to coach me in how to corner properly.

I was astounded by the reaction. Instead of the derision and mocking that I feared, they began to coach me and slowly, on the way home, my cornering began to get better.

It set me thinking. Isn't it true that just before you learned something significant there was confusion and uncertainty? So these feelings of being out on a limb and not getting it right are crucial to our future learning. In an odd way, you can only succeed if you've failed a lot.

My usual reaction to situations where I am out of control or vulnerable is to steer away from them but all this does is close the door to new learning. Asking for help takes guts, often the fear of ridicule or not wanting to appear weak keeps many of us from getting the help we need. So this week you may like to try an experiment:

1. Think of an area of your life where you are a complete novice. Alternatively think of some skill or ability that you would like to have but are holding back from having a go. For example - selling to strangers, making cold calls, giving a talk etc.

2. Make yourself vulnerable by asking for coaching from an expert. You might be surprised and delighted by the reaction you get.

3. Offer to help someone else in an area where you are an expert - they can only say no.

Enjoy being a novice again!

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