We learn best when we are children. Why? Because children don’t know that they are not supposed to wobble. They wobble as they are learning to walk. They wobble as they are learning to ride a bicycle.
David Meier, who founded the Center for Accelerated Learning, says that “The LEARNING is in the Wobble!” Yet, we adults don’t like to let others see us wobble!
Meier asked, “What if children gave up and never learned to walk because they got totally discouraged when they wobbled?” Imagine meeting a 30-year-old with perfectly good legs who was sitting in a wheelchair. You ask why he is in the chair and he says, “I tried to learn to walk when I was a kid, but I wasn’t very good at it. I must have fallen down three or four times. So I just decided that I would never walk.”
This may sound pretty absurd…….but how many adults do you know who stop trying to learn something new if they don’t learn it right off the bat?
A Safe Place to Wobble
Adults actually learn best when they have a “safe place” to wobble. In some professions, a safe place to wobble is built in. For example, athletes often get an “off-season” and a “pre-season” when they can experiment with new behaviors without risking big consequences. Stage actors generally get to practice and do “dress rehearsals” before the play officially opens!
Yet, in most lines of work, there is no pre-season or dress rehearsal. There may be little room to look awkward and to keep practicing until you get it right. This is one of the reasons that coaching can be so powerful. When we coach leaders, college students, and others, we help them “wobble” as they experiment with doing things in a new and potentially more productive way.
What opportunities do you have to “wobble” in a relatively safe environment? Does your job allow you the opportunity to “do things poorly” and learn from your mistakes before you are expected to “do things well?” As a parent, where do you go to “wobble” and explore how best to support your teenager or young adult?