I recently wrote about the importance of taking the time to apply what you’re learning. Learning is the way to grow as a person and a business owner, but if you’re not actually putting that new knowledge into practice, there’s really no reason for the learning in the first place.
The same goes for hobbies that you have. It’s one thing to learn how to do something, but if you don’t apply it to real-world situations, it’s just something you know how to do. But you don’t know how well you can do it until you actually apply it.
I’ve taken tennis lessons off and on for almost 20 years. I love learning how to swing and volley better, but I never played a true match until recently. Which is interesting, since I thrive on competition.
The unpredictability of an actual game was intriguing, but I was afraid to play because I want to win. I wasn’t sure if I could apply all the rules I knew in the heat of a match.
I studied Spanish for most of middle school, high school and college. I knew all the rules of the language and I could handle a fictitious conversation pretty well. But in my early 20s, I went to Spain and had to actually apply those rules in real life. It was tough. You’re not as prepared for the unpredictability of real conversations so you have to be ready to fail. Of course, I made it through the trip and came out with a much better handle on the language than if I hadn’t gone.
My First Tennis Match
When I finally played my first tennis match a few weeks ago, I was in a similar position. I know what to do on the court, but only in a fabricated situation where points don’t count. I was able to hold my own, but it wasn’t as seamless as I’d hoped.
I know that with time and more more games, I’ll get better at tennis. But it was a good reminder that you can only store a small amount of information. You can’t remember it all. It’s only through practice, repetition and applying what you know that you’ll get better.
The same goes for learning at a conference or taking a dance class or reading a book about gardening. You have to actually apply what you learned if you want to get better. You have to be willing to fail and grow from the lessons you learned.
How often do you take the time to apply what you’re learning every day–in business and in life?