Sometimes when you are in the process of learning something new, it can help tremendously to get an objective, outside opinion on your progress. I say sometimes, because obviously if you are doing something like practicing your T-shot, you can pretty much check your progress yourself.
But when you are doing things that are much more personal, and much more subjective, it can be hard to tell if you are making any progress. This is largely due to how the brain processes, stores and uses information. This is also the reason that when people successfully apply things like the “Law Of Attraction,” it seems like the world has magically fulfilled their wishes.
No matter what changes you’ve made, small or large, they will seem normal.
Let me explain.
Lets say you are terribly afraid of elevators. Every time you approach an elevator, your palms get cold and clammy, your heart starts to palpitate, you imagine plunging painfully to your death, and then decide to take stairs. All this is happening inside your brain, due to your own particular history and how you’ve decided to code your experience. This is all normal for you.
Then you go and see a hypnotist, or watch some guy on Oprah who helps people overcome irrational fears, and are vicariously cured. Or maybe you even see some seemingly disconnected event that helps you to unconsciously reframe whatever past experience gave you your fear. Whatever the reason, suddenly you are not afraid of elevators any more.
Now the first time you approach an elevator, you might notice a difference. But more than likely, what has changed is your idea of what is “normal.” All of a sudden it will just feel “normal” to get on an elevator without any feelings of fear or anxiety. You will obviously remember taking the stairs before, but you won’t likely remember the actual fear, since it’s gone.
To get an idea of what this is like, try and remember first learning how to read. Try to remember the feeling of looking at a bunch of squiggly lines on a piece of paper, or on the board at school, and having no idea what they mean. Or try to remember riding bike for the first time, and not being able to keep your balance.
While you may remember the actual event, sitting in a chair at school, or riding your bike for the first time, you’ll likely have a difficult time remembering the feelings of confusion, difficulty, or anxiety that often comes with learning.
As you become more skilled, your brain simply readjusts what is “normal.” It continually updates your definition.
The upshot of this is that you have an unlimited capacity for learning and improving skills in virtually all areas of your life. The drawbacks to this is that in many life skills, (social skills, public speaking skills, writing and persuasion skills) you may be improving drastically, by leaps and bounds, but it doesn’t feel like it because you are always “normal.” This can lead to frustration if you aren’t seeing specific results, like when you improve your T shot, or free throw percentage.
The best way to keep your motivation high is to figure out some way to measure your progress. This can be done by soliciting the advice of people that can be objective.
For an example of public speaking, Toastmasters is really good for this. They have a system where after every speech; you are critiqued objectively by a sometimes-complete stranger. So you can be sure that any feedback you get is useful and helpful in drastically improving your public speaking skills in a relatively short amount of time.
Feedback is perhaps the most valuable thing when you are improving anything. One of the traps of feedback is that many people avoid it, due to a fear of being judged, or rejected, or having their deepest, most secret fears laid bare. Many people feel that if the feedback they receive isn’t one hundred percent positive, then it means they are a failure. This attitude only keeps you stuck in your present level of skill.
But in reality, feedback is simply feedback. It only has meaning that you give it. And when you consistently use feedback to help you improve, you’ll be light years ahead of most people on the planet.