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Issue 11

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In this issue ~~

* Keys to Learning: Transcending Limitations

* Being a Clear Channel, or Getting Out of Your Own Way

* Creative Tip

* Wise Words

* Bookshelf

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Keys to Learning: Transcending Limitations

As creative people, we are continually challenged to learn new things, whether by necessity or by choice. There are times when learning is fun and easy, especially when the subject is something we've chosen. On the other hand, learning something we have to learn can be like pulling teeth. And for some of us, with much of our formal education well behind us, absorbing new information becomes harder.

But learning is a muscle that can be exercised and developed just like our physical muscles. There is some truth to the old adage, "Use it or lose it." The more you continue to use your mind and body, the easier learning will be for you. Having a spirit of adventure and a few tools and techniques to work with can make a world of difference.

~ Do what you can to make the experience pleasurable. Study with a friend. Create games to help you learn data. Take a class rather than learning by yourself. Plan rewards for yourself as you achieve goals along the way.

~ Break the task down into small pieces that you can assimilate. Make it more manageable and less overwhelming. Let each phase build upon the previous ones.

~ Create a conducive environment. Have the proper tools and reference materials handy and in good working order. Find a quiet place if that's what's needed, or play some music that helps you focus. Get a baby-sitter or go to the library.

~ Are you tackling something you really don't want to? If you're learning something to please someone else, you may need to look at whether you really want to, and either drop it or break through your resistance and renew your commitment for yourself.

~ Honor your learning style.

- Do you learn better by visual, auditory, tactile or kinesthetic means? (Author Ricki Linksman discusses this in How to Learn Anything Quickly: An Accelerated Program for Rapid Learning.) While teaching computer skills, I discovered that some students learned better by watching me perform the skills, while others learned better by doing it themselves.

- Do you favor left-brain or right-brain styles of learning? Or whole-brain learning? Perhaps the music I listened to while doing my homework in high school actually enhanced my learning process!

~ Learn new techniques of learning. The books in the Bookshelf section below, among others, offer up-to-date techniques for learning more quickly and effectively.

~ Take on a new identity for the purpose of learning.

I recently read about a language teacher who found that her students learned faster if they were given a new identity. When they came to class, they were given a new name, occupation, birth place and marital status and wore nametags with the new name. She found that the students who took new identities learned the language substantially faster. By changing identity, these students were able to transcend their old limitations.

Or simply create an identity for yourself as someone who has mastered this material and gone on to use it successfully. Hold that image of yourself as you go through the learning process. When I started ice skating this year (something I chose, but definitely a challenge!), I found that I was more courageous when I imagined that I was Michelle Kwan or Tara Lipinski.

~ If the pursuit is physical, remember that it takes time for your body to create new pathways and patterns, and that certain bodies are better suited to certain pursuits, just as we each excel in different intellectual arenas.

~ Be persistent. I've found that when learning something that's difficult for me, there comes a "breaking point" where it suddenly begins to make sense and flow a lot more easily. That point may come sooner or later, so stick with it.

~ Ask for help. When I was an actress, I was slow at learning lines. I would ask my fellow actors to "run lines" with me so I could learn them more solidly and feel confident in rehearsal and performance. Ask someone to quiz you, coach you or give you feedback on your progress.

~ Continually challenge yourself to learn something new. Make it fun. The world is full of interesting things to study -- for career advancement, personal growth or sheer pleasure. The more you learn, the easier learning will be.

Learning is something you can continue to do throughout your lifetime. While there are times you may be required to learn new skills, learning is also something you can choose to do to enrich your life. So don't be discouraged if the process moves slowly. Use the techniques available to you to make it easier, and enjoy the journey, rather than just reaching for the destination.

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Being a Clear Channel, or Getting Out of Your Own Way

When you're blessed with a gift (and everyone is), whether it's artistic, intellectual or physical, it's very easy to let ego get in the way. Our gifts may make us feel better than others. Or our gift may overwhelm us; we may feel inadequate to do it justice.

Nowadays, when we think of channeling, we think of bringing through another consciousness. But, in a sense, we also channel our gifts. How often do you get ideas that seem to come from outside of yourself? We've all had the experience of creating something effortlessly. Many people feel that their talents are gifts from God. It's what we call "inspiration."

Each of us comes to this life with something unique to contribute. We can give that to our egos and insecurities, or we can acknowledge it for the honor -- and the responsibility -- that it is. It's like being caught between the angel on one shoulder and the devil on the other.

When I got the idea for my book, Managing With A Heart, the little devil voice kept saying, "Nobody is going to want to hear this from you; you don't even have an MBA." At the same time, the angel voice was saying, "Just keep going. You got this idea for a reason. You're acting as a conduit, and you have no idea who it's going to impact." I chose to listen to the angel, and the book went on to wonderful success. Had I listened to the devil, I might have kept this material from someone who really needed to hear it, along with blocking my own success.

If you get an idea you can't get out of your head, go with it. Get out of your own way. Don't judge or block it. As they say, the lord works in mysterious ways, and your idea is something that is needed somewhere in the world, in some small or big way. We're led to believe that bigger is better, and anything short of a best-seller is a failure. But if your book reaches "only" a few thousand people, your painting is seen by a few hundred, or your poem is read by one special person, you've done your part. You can feel satisfaction in that.

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Creative Tip

If you're faced with a difficult or confusing task, or an overwhelming day, stop for a minute, close your eyes, and visualize yourself having completed the task(s) in question. Feel the feeling of satisfaction, and perhaps relief, at having successfully accomplished your goal. Now, go about your work. You'll be amazed at how much smoother your day goes.

 

Wise Words

There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is; nor how valuable it is; nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours, clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep open and aware of urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open.

~ Martha Graham

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Bookshelf

(click on the book graphic to see a description at Amazon.com)

The Einstein Factor: A Proven New Method for Increasing Your Intelligence . . . Win Wenger, Richard Poe

The Photoreading Whole Mind System . . . Paul R. Scheele

Natural Brilliance: Move from Feeling Stuck to Achieving Success . . . Paul R. Scheele

How to Learn Anything Quickly: An Accelerated Program for Rapid Learning . . . Ricki Linksman

Accelerated Learning for the 21st Century: The Six-Step Plan to Unlock Your Master-Mind . . . Colin Penfield Rose, Malcolm J. Nicholl

Inspired: The Breath of God: Conversations With Gifted People About Their Faith and Inspiration . . . Joanna Laufer, Kenneth S. Lewis


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© 1999 Sharon Good. All rights reserved.

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