How to Internalize Learning

A friend sends me often inspiring videos or books. He asked me yesterday “But how do you stay with that mindset? How do you keep the inner drive that a good speech or good training gives you?”

The simple answer is this. You don’t.

One of the biggest challenges the training industry faces at the moment is that there’s no proven way to measure ROI after training. (If you do know how this is done – except for the indirect increase in sales – let me know).
And why is there no direct ROI?
Because there’s no direct link between training and performance.

People expect immediate change after a learning event, be it a book, a movie or a personal skills training.

The path between the learning event and the direct results passes – if ever! – through something called INTERNALIZING.

How do you Internalize?

1. During  the training/reading/watching, pass the knowledge through your own filter. Ask yourself “Is this good for me? Is this applicable to my situation?” It can happen that out of a whole training it’s half an hour at the end of the second day that brings the click. For a book, it might be a sentence. For a movie, it might be the opener or the ending.
Whichever it is, it is your value out of it. And most people do not make the effort to find it.

2. Do an exercise with it. Write something down. Trainings usually have this kind of exercise embedded in them. Write down your conclusions in the form “I can start doing X different and have better results.”
The writing down part should be the translation to action of the value you take out of the learning event.

3.  Here comes the hard part. Start doing what you wrote down. Do it every day after the learning event. Don’t cut slack here.
At one “life-changing” training, while we were all writing our mission statements, values and  pondering the ways to improve our lives, the trainer said at a moment:

“It’s a thundering river out that door. The moment you walk out, it will take you. Make sure you keep this learning and don’t get dragged down by the river.”

This is where most learning fails.
And the secret to preventing it is PERSISTENCE.
You should keep doing what you committed to change, at least for 21 days. This is the cycle to internalize a habit.
And although inspirational blogger Dragos Roua says here you can change it within 15 days, I believe it should take 21 days at least.
I hear that for attitude changes, it takes at least 6 months.

So choose your value from learning carefully, and don’t commit to change more than 1-2 thing after a learning event. You will only strain yourself.

4. One way to ensure you have  someone to hold you accountable while you change that habit is to take a coach. Coaching is practical and at the same time directed to the individual. If you can’t afford a coach, ask a friend to watch you and hold you accountable.
Watch your learning and progression. Celebrate your wins. Be proud of your growth.

You are becoming a better human being day by day. Just be aware of it.

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  • Dragos Roua
    November 18, 2009

    For me it’s usually 15 days, but I’m more of a “cold turkey” person. I’ve quit smoking for good without any effort whatsoever and I internalized a lot more things more abruptly than the average. But I’m also obsessed with personal development :-) So I guess one variable would be the overall capacity for change of the person, capacity which could be in turn trained and enhanced.

    Numbers are good for giving you a working framework but each and every individual has his own internal representation of time, hence the actual time frame for changing a habit could vary a lot. I only keep these numbers are general landmarks. So, if you want, 21 days is as “true” as 15 or 30 days :-)

    As for getting a coach to support your change intentions, I’m 100% in. A coach doesn’t give you just general know how and guidance, but he also works at more subtle levels, like acceptance and validation.

    Enjoying your blog :-)
    .-= Dragos Roua´s last blog ..33 Questions For An Interview With Yourself =-.

  • Andra
    November 19, 2009

    “You are becoming a better human being day by day. Just be aware of it.” –> this sentence from your post that brought a click for me. Thanks! :)

  • Maria
    November 20, 2009

    Thank you Andra! Feels great when I get to create an “Aha!” for someone!

  • ruba
    November 25, 2009

    Just added it to my facebook profile… passing it through your own filters and staying with it… beautifully written Maria, thanks!

  • Life Coaching Courses
    August 12, 2010

    It’s a great article very informative. You have to internalize before you can appreciate things. Learning really don’t come easy it should pass to different levels.
    .-= Life Coaching Courses´s last blog ..Teacher as Life Coach – Measure- Monitor and Improve Your Students’ Emotional State and Behavior =-.

  • Maria
    August 12, 2010

    Yes, that’s right. I’m now working on realizing how internalizing can be improved, and how to pass through the learning curve in a proactive way, getting all the benefits and minimizing the pain…

  • Nick
    December 24, 2010

    Thanks heaps, this is exactly the type of thing I was looking for. Great article, keep them up
    .-= Nick´s last blog ..Self Development Software =-.

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