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Why Do We Suck At Learning?

A lot of teachers are ineffective for one main reason. 

And it keeps most of us from self-learning too.

Lack of Immersion

I’ve been searching for the best ways to learn for the last twenty some years.

And universe willing, I’ll be spending many more.

Part of the problem with figuring this out is that the answer is always individual. 

(This is why 1:1 coaching can never be beat).

There are many claims for the “ultimate learning hack.” 

Recall, repetition, chunking, coaching and smart goals.

But these don’t come anywhere close to the most valuable learning strategy.

This belief is something that the great Tony Robbins and I have in common. 

Preaching the importance of immersion.

I asked AI (Chat GPT) to create an image of Tony Robbins and I learning golf.
The result is hilarious.

What Is “Not” Immersion?

Essentially, most of us fail to learn because we approach a new skill, or subject in small, spaced out learning moments.

I’ve been “trying” crochet, and learning to draw off, or make music off and on over the years.
Every now and again I’ll pick up a hook and dabble with making a blanket. 

Pull out a pencil, sketch pad and doodle a bit. 

Or mess around with writing lyrics, playing piano, and creating tracks in Logic Pro.

I suck pretty bad at all of these things. 

And that’s OK. 

Activities like this simply fill some unicorn space for me. 

A few minutes a day to tune out my thoughts with a mindful hobby, for fun, with no goal.

What Is Immersion?

Let’s be honest, immersion is a “strategy” that’s been around as long as learning has.

There isn’t a lot of creativity to it. 

Yet its potency in accelerating learning and transformation is unmatched. It is the best.

Immersion is the opposite of passive learning. 

Becoming obsessed and focused with finding feedback on your abilities as soon, and as much possible.

Diving so deep into the practice that the intensity brings about rapid change. 

This is how I felt with football, fitness, writing, parenting and podcasting.

If I did want to learn to crochet, or draw for real, then I would do as much as I could, quickly and get as much feedback as possible.

This is why Tony Robbins workshops are delivered in a very intensive 3, full day schedule.

Tony Robbins Setting An Example

Tony Robbins set his own example with learning life coaching and neuro-linguistic programming in the first place. 

Long before he wrote the book Awaken The Giant Within, he dove really deep into learning how to shift the mind.

He became obsessed with every possible resource, mentor, and experience possible that would help him learn about personal growth.

Once he became a wildly successful coach, he shifted his sights to business and finance.

And the results speak for themselves.

Tony Robbins has helped millions of people, and he owns over a hundred companies.

If you are serious about improving a skill, or learning goal, make immersion your compass.

Surround yourself with taking action on the biggest priorities and when you need more information, surround yourself with podcasts, books, workshops, and mentors with more expertise than you.
Seek fast, contextual feedback specific to your growth and keep going.

Understanding immersion is the reason I have been very successful as a coach. 

I have a knack for putting my thumb on the pulse of what people need.
Identifying the most valuable area to close a gap, keeping you focused on that, providing immediate feedback, adjustments and then moving on to the next thing as soon as we’ve reached a critical stage of success in that specific area.

The Science Behind Immersion

Immersion makes some anecdotal sense, but there’s also science to it.

Language education is probably the best example. 

I sucked at learning French. I tried hard every day for 20  years, both in school and on my own. Yet, I still  wasn’t really able to speak or read french.

How is that possible?

I was quote unquote “learning” without any immersion.

But someone like Benny Lewis who hosts a blog log called “Fluent In 3 Months” shares that immersing yourself in learning the language is a game changer.

When you jump fully in to sink or swim,  everything will improve. 

Your comprehension, proficiency, cultural understanding, and even how you think. The brain thrives on rich, contextual inputs. Context and obsession leads to faster wiring in the brain.

A great way to remember the concept is picturing a fish swimming. A fish is completely surrounded by water. This is the type of wrap around, fully focused learning that is ideal. 

When we don’t immerse ourselves we are like a “fish out of water” too.

Why Does Immersion Work So Well? 

It creates a relentless cycle.

You have rapid experiences, reflections, efforts and feedback

The brain’s neuroplasticity, the changes in new pathways and connections, accelerates when there are no other distractions. 

Basically all of our learning cells can hyper focus.

It really is an incredible feeling to learn something new for like 5 days straight, all day, every day. 

We should all experience this type of exponential growth every so often.

8 Tips On How to Immerse Yourself

  1. Go All In. Pursue a new skill, or topic with as much focused time and energy as possible.
  2. Triangulate Resources. Don’t waste practice time, but add podcasts and audiobooks when you’re on a walk, commute, or doing chores that will efficiently add information, or reminders.
  3. Stage Your Environment. Create an immersive environment, life balls hanging from the ceiling to dodge for karate, or use movies, tv, labels that have a new language you want to learn.
  4. Connect With Communities. Join and interact with groups, forums, or lessons with other people learning similar skills, or topics. 
  5. Focused Practice. Create specific learning goals and take action on practicing with deep, mindful, focus as much as possible.
  6. Raise Weaknesses. Focusing on your biggest area for growth can change the arc of your ability the fastest.
  7. Teach What You Learn. Document your process privately, publicly and spend some time teaching others right away. Don’t wait until you’re an “expert”
  8. Pivot, or Embrace The Journey. Learning for the sake of learning is the main value. So if you get bored and want to immerse yourself in something else, go for it. If you do want to keep building that skill, or topic, remember immersion is a shortcut, but it doesn’t mean it will be easy. If you want to succeed long term it will still require patience and persistence, especially, interestingly, the better you get, the more work it will take to continue to improve. 

Want To Apply For Coaching?

I go super deep and it takes a lot of energy, I only take on a few clients at a time. So it’s always a good idea to be on the waiting list.

Every so often I go to my list of applicants and do some initial clarity calls.

I charge a lot of money for a one-time clarity call, but for potential coaching clients, this call is FREE.

It’s not a 15 minute “chat”. More like 1-2 hours. And it is a deep, powerful, life changing coaching session.

The goal of this session is to identify your big dream, what’s getting in the way, and come up with a plan.

There is no big sales pitch about being a client at the end.

If you want to work together long term AND I feel it would be a positive experience for both of us then I will explain the next steps.

Either it will be a Hell Yes, Or A Hell No!
But no matter what it will be an incredible experience.

If you want to learn more about how and why I specifically coach people one to one,​ check out this article.​

Ready To Apply For Coaching?

If you want to explore working together you can apply here.

Justin Nolan JKL Coaching Application Form

Not Ready For Coaching Yet?

I’ve worked with a number of coaches after years of learning from them.

I listened to their podcasts, read their newsletters and read their books.

Years later I had saved up enough money, or worked up the courage to learn from them directly.

One of the best ways I share everything I learn to help you on your journey is in the JKL Newsletter.


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coaching, Leadership, Learning

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