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How this One Simple Question Can Help You Overcome Any Resistance to Learning a New Technology

When you grow up, you tend to get told that the world is the way it is and your life is just to live your life inside the world, try not to bash into the walls too much, try to have a nice family, have fun, save a little money. That’s a very limited life. Life can be much broader, once you discover one simple fact, and that is that everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you. And you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use. Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again. ~Steve Jobs via Brain Pickings

If you have a fear of technology, it is imperative to recognize that your fear is coming from resistance and not from a lack of ability or capability. It's easier to believe that tech comes naturally to everyone else than to examine your long-held beliefs. Besides, I've sat in amazement as my 3-year old niece worked a Kindle and smartphone like nobody's business…and she's no smarter than you or me.

So let's talk about resistance and how you can crush it.

Dig Deep to Identify the Real Culprit of Your Resistance

Steven Pressfield, in his book “The War of Art”, calls resistance self-sabotage. Resistance is “that negative force that arises whenever we try to move from a lower level to a higher level.” (source)

Resistance is experienced as fear; the degree of fear equates to the strength of Resistance. Therefore the more fear we feel about a specific enterprise, the more certain we can be that that enterprise is important to us and to the growth of our soul. That's why we feel so much Resistance. If it meant nothing to us, there'd be no Resistance.
~Steven Pressfield, The War of Art

So if resistance is a great thing – a sign that we’re on the right path – how do you get to the source of your resistance?

First, identify what you THINK is causing your resistance. Once you have an initial idea, use this repetitive answer tree exercise to keep digging until you feel certain that you’ve uncovered the real source of your resistance.

Let’s say you want to learn how to design a website but the time required to learn that skill seems too much than you're willing to invest. On the surface, your resistance (fear) is due to time (or lack of it), but as you did deeper, you uncover the real reason:

  • Okay, you’re pressed for time. But what’s that about? I already have enough on my plate.
  • But what does that really mean? If I say yes to learning how to design a website, it means I will have to say no to a lot of other things I want to do.
  • But what does that really mean? It means I won't be able to hang out with my friends and family.
  • But what does that really mean? I don’t want to disappoint them.
  • But what does that really mean? If I say no, they’ll stop inviting me to things.
  • But what does that really mean? I’ll eventually lose contact with them.
  • But what does that really mean? They’ll forget about me.
  • But what does that really mean? I’ll be all alone.

Oh…so what you initially thought was a time issue is really a fear that learning this new technology will negatively impact a core value of yours: connection and relationships.

The source of your resistance is actually the non-monetary costs you've associated with actually learning that new tech skill. So now you just need to make the benefits of actually learning the skill greater than the costs.

Discover Your Why

Very few people or companies clearly articulate WHY they do WHAT they do. By WHY I mean your purpose, cause, or belief – WHY does your company exist? ~Simon Sinek, Start With Why

Although Simon’s message was directed to corporate leadership and how to inspire action, this is a great question to ask yourself whenever you are facing resistance, including your fear of technology:

WHY do you want to learn this new technology? It’s probably something you haven’t really thought about or determined (which is why it hasn’t become a priority).

And your WHY doesn’t have to be a grand and involve saving the world (but if it does, awesome).

I learned how to get really good at PowerPoint because I wanted to win a competition at work. We had a company-wide book club and discussed it during our weekly team meeting. The book discussions were led by an employee (or team of two). The best presentation – as voted by the Executive Team – won a $50 gift card. My WHY became “I wanted to win” and so I learned how to master PowerPoint to make better presentations.

So What’s Your Why?

Wherever the mind goes, the man follows.

What is something you’ve been putting off learning and WHY do you really want to learn it? Please share in the comments.


Image: Retro Woman by Stephanie_Zieber

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