Beginners Luck

Ever had this?

Of course – we’ve all had it,
and we’ve all seen others have it too. It’s one of those “guaranteed givens” in
pretty much everything we do, when starting out.

Whenever we are doing
something for the first time – and I don’t mean the groundbreaking first
time ever in the world
type thing – we’ve either been shown how to do
it, or we’ve watched someone else and are copying the model we’ve been
observing. Either way, we are doing a re-enactment of a model way to do it.

What happens next?

This next stage is really
crucial – for we can replicate our ‘beginners luck’ or we can begin adapting
the model for ourselves. Looking for what feels more comfortable for us. Looking
for what we know that – “for sure” – fits
our skin.


We’ve come to a fork in
the road, and believe it or not, although we might think there are two choices
for us, actually there are four. One of the choices is “do nothing”, so when Yogi
Berra’s famous quote says, “When you come to a fork in the road – Take It!”
that advice merely eradicates the least dynamic choice.

We can retreat of course, and
tell ourselves “This ain’t for me.” However, moving forward, and in terms of
doing whatever it is the second and
time – the fork is all about A or B.
However, now – here – there are
forces at play. Inner forces – forces inside our head, where our patterning and
references and all the areas of our learning strategies come into play.

In his book Mastery,
George Leonard talks about the road to mastery of anything being paved with “brief
spurts of progress separated by periods in which we seem to be getting nowhere”,
and he also reveals the familiar personality types that populate that journey.
One of those types might well be ours, and we’ll soon discover that the fork we
have taken is yielding less fruit than we first thought – back when we were
experiencing Beginners Luck.

“I thought it was going to be
easy, a doddle, and I’d be good at it, I’d get instant gratification.” These
four phrases, four reasons, are part of what made us choose the fork we did.
And the clue as to why this (let’s call it) Route B is the road that brings few
rewards is  ….. in the number of times “I” comes into our inner dialogue.

With Beginners Luck, first time round we have no inner reference of how we’ve
done it – just an external model. Second time round we have an inner reference
and more often than not we are endeavouring to replicate THAT, instead of
re-replicating the external model.

This is the pivotal moment at
the fork.

= Re-replicate the external
model while at the same time disengaging totally from the process and outcome
of what took place the first time round.

Route B = Detach some part of the strategy from
the external model and replace it with the internal reference.
Now some
here can be on a sliding scale – depending on the learning strategy being

A little bit of detachment will only have a small effect, while more we detach
the bigger the effect – but here’s the thing:- Every little bit of detachment
is cumulative, the effect is growing, and (unbeknownst to us) we are
also already
on Route B!
Now I can hear some of you
saying, “So, Pete, what about the TOTE ** model? Isn’t that the best strategy
for learning, for getting better at something? You seem to be saying that Route
A is the best way to go – ignoring the fact that keeping what we do right, and adapting
what’s gone wrong, is what the TOTE model is all about.”

My reply is this: “The TOTE
model works on both Routes – however, the TOTE model does not contain internal
referencing. And it is internal referencing that’s clouding
every next step on Route B. Would that we were robots – because then there’d
be only Route A; and also the TOTE model would be there to help improve and
perfect the skill.”

But we aren’t robots – we’re human. PLUS within
our humanity we have the power to be far better than any robots – with
equivalent physiques – and we are also unique in having the power of thought,
emotions and self talk.

Now part of the currency of both
Route A and Route B is made up of these three powerful human attributes, but we
need to understand how to spend that currency to make best use of its value. There
is a key bit of knowledge about that currency that we’d also do well to know –
it has a different buying power depending on which Route you are on. On Route A
it buys more so we spend less – less thinking, less emotion, less self talk.

To put it another way – we don’t
let our spending get in the way of what we are doing next.

and Recovery

I’ve been privileged over the
years to have rescued quite a lot of people from their own particular Route Bs.
Of course they never realised when they’d come to a fork in their road in the first
place – Route B was such a well trodden road that they followed it through
familiarity and comfort (pseudo or otherwise), never spotting Route A at all.

Thankfully, once they’d grasped
the notion that there is always a Route A – and that it works better every time
– then they began to notice it more and more, and made choices when that fork
in the road appeared.

The more we walk Route A, the
more well-trodden it gets – then the choice at each fork in the road we
encounter becomes easier to see and easier to take as well.

Most people over a certain age
fight shy of learning something new. It’s not because they have lost the mental
capacity, it’s because they’ve spent a lifetime treading Route B. Now, their “best choice” is to stand
still or retreat from the fork in the road. They are spending their familiar Route B
currency enriched with negative self talk, excessive emotion and clouded

There are older people who are still learning new things, not
daunted by the world or its progress, still being creative well into their 70s
and 80s. What is the reason for their bucking the trend? They’re on Route A – and
have been familiar with it for quite a while.

So check out what Route you
usually take. It’s never too late to become a Route A person. And the moment
you decide to make any changes – it’s like you’ve just got a big slice of
Beginners Luck!

  • “Life begins at 40 – Oooh! Beginners Luck!”

  • “Think you’re too old to learn new tricks? Give it a go – and look – Beginners Luck!”

Immediately, a fork in the
road will appear and it’s time to choose! Don’t just take my word for it,
though. I followed Route B for years – but here’s the thing about life. There
are always opportunities to change our minds – and the real joy of treading Route
A is that you’ll be surrounded by Beginners Luck every step of the way!

One of the ultimate Route A
people is Nick Vujicic. If you know about Nick then you’ll undoubtedly agree
with me here.  If you don’t know about
him then check him out – starting with any YouTube reference like this one:

** – TOTE model > “Test – Operate – Test – Exit”

A model of corrective adaptation of trial and error, where we have a strategy, run it, correct it, run it again until we are happy with the outcome of the process or strategy.