How Handstands Taught Me to Learn Again
Personal and Business Coach Ben Bulach tells us how movement has helped him rediscover the motivation to learn new things and how it's given him the strength to change his chosen career path.
On finishing school, many of us will have lost the motivation to learn. It can turn into an annoying obligation and the majority of the knowledge you acquire only seems relevant for your exams. However, our ability to learn new skills and acquire knowledge is a privilege to nurture rather than ignore.
So, how can we rediscover our motivation to learn?
Rewire your brain
Despite what you might think, learning is a physical process. Successful learning actually makes physical changes to your brain; in fact neurobiologists use the term neuroplasticity for the lifelong ability of the brain to change the way it is wired. To rediscover the motivation to learn, you need to do some rewiring.
Something as simple as learning to do a handstand can help reset your neural connections and set you up for new and exciting experiences.
Before you start, remember that all your efforts will be rewarded despite the inevitable setbacks you will encounter. The sensation you feel when you finally achieve it for the first time is priceless. At the same time, it boosts your motivation to keep going, because you physically experience that putting in sufficient effort will lead to success.
The five steps that will help you learn anything ...
It all starts with play, which is so natural for children. We start with whatever is available and explore our possibilities. You might have seen a handstand before, so you start by playing around. You mirror and imitate the movements you’ve seen from someone else.
Try to increase the airtime of your legs, try to get comfortable with your weight resting on your hands. Gathering basic experience is really important as it gives you a better idea of how everything is connected. In the case of the handstand, you can see how pointing your feet affects your balance.
Of course, in your very first play with the handstand there’s a limit to what you can play around with and you will soon run out of options, so the next step will come really soon.
You need input from a reliable source to help you understand and apply what you’re wanting to achieve, like a mentor or an expert in their own particular field. Remember: Nothing can replace a good teacher.
Now we are back to physical again. You take the information you were given and implement it. In the case of the handstand this could mean opening your shoulders, or working on your line to actually feel the hollow body position when you are upside down.
If you’ve been conscientious in your practice, you will gain extensive experience from it. Keep asking yourself why you fail and why you succeed.
In the handstand example this can be an element as subtle as the influence of your breath on your straight body line. You need to learn to feel the differences yourself if you want to progress to a higher level.
To keep this cycle going, the ability to reflect on your training is essential. Only then can you bring benefits each time you finish one of the cycles, otherwise you’ll go around and around in circles and your progress will stall.
Seeing the rewards for yourself
Once you’ve gone through a few of these cycles successfully and learned new movements, you will be more driven to explore new possibilities with greater courage to take bolder decisions. You are now equipped with an elevated level of awareness, consciousness and motivation and for me, this allowed me to leave my old job and start over in a completely new area.
Who knows what it will mean for you, once you are more connected to your body and can actually feel the results of your own physical learning practice.
Do you have a growth mindset as a leader?
Confident leaders are wired to learn and grow. Senior Director and three-time Olympian Kate Woods talks confidence.Read Next
Great to hear you can relate. I’m sure you still have the mindset, so whatever it is you put your effort in you will be able to learn.