One of the most unexpected ways that my life changed when I moved to Spain was that I once again became a student. A full-time learner.
In many areas.
By moving to a new country, I became a beginner again in everyday life. Speaking Catalan. Mailing a letter at the post office. Filing my taxes. Even learning to drive. (I had to go back to driving school to get my Spanish license!)
I also started my own business. There was endless stuff to learn there.
To learn how to become a really great coach, I actually went back to school. Classes, reading, being mentored and evaluated, and practicing, practicing, practicing.
Being such a learner again has been incredibly rewarding. It's also been difficult and humbling at times.
I've been reminded that the learning process can draw on all your reserves of perseverance and belief in yourself.
So today, I wanted to share one of the easiest and most impactful habits that has supported me during this time.
This habit can really support you too, if you are also pushing yourself to learn something new, and encountering difficulty or dips in your self-confidence.
It’s so simple: Three questions. Five minutes.
My Three Learning Questions
I use this habit to support me as I learn every day to become an even better coach.
After every call with a client, I open my “learning log” and quickly answer these three questions:
- What did I do well?
- What did I not do so well?
- How can I take this learning forward?
Here’s what I’ve noticed from using these questions over time:
- Identifying what I do well helps to recognize that I am always making progress and can be proud of it. Our brains are wired to be critical and look for threats. This is why it’s always easier for us to remember how we messed up than how we succeeded. We can actually re-wire our brains to be less negative by spending more time thinking about the good stuff we’ve done. This helps keep up our motivation!
- Taking just a minute to record what I didn’t do well gets it down on paper and out of my head. I also usually take a deep breath here too, and think to myself, “It’s okay. Just keep working on it.”
- Thinking of how I might learn from this really helps me let go of self-criticism and find practical ways to try something different in the future.
- By keeping my answers short and simple, I don’t get bogged down or start avoiding this study habit. It's best to keep it to 3-5 minutes.
Another way to use the questions
In the book A More Beautiful Question, I was surprised when the author, Warren Berger, recommended using very similar questions in a totally different context: family life.
Berger cited how fellow author Bruce Feiler saw remarkable improvements in his relationships with his wife and kids when they started having weekly family meetings centered on these questions:
- What went well in the family this past week?
- What could we do better?
- What things will we commit to working on in the coming week?
These sounded a lot like my learning questions! I could imagine what a big impact these questions would have on a family. Or a couple. Or a work team. Or…
How about you?
How you could use these questions to support you as you to continue to learn something new, or work to improve some area of your life?
If you decide to experiment with them, I’d love to hear below what you discover!