Ever think about what goes through a baby’s mind as it is learning to crawl?
Does the baby plan the steps it needs to take?
Does it think “I need to place my weight on both my knees as well as my left hand, then move my right hand slightly ahead. I then need to move my left knee forward. No wait maybe my right knee. But I also need to move my left hand. Oh, and I need to make sure I keep facing the same direction when I move forward otherwise, I’ll crawl in circles“?
Does that sound like something a baby would be thinking before it starts crawling? Do you think that the baby waits till it has a perfect plan in its mind before it attempts to crawl?
Does it think “I can do this. And if I can start crawling and reach there, everyone will start praising me and respect me for my crawling skills“?
Can you imagine a baby saying something like that to try and motivate itself?
Why do you think babies learn things in an almost effortless manner, while adults actively find way to overcomplicate everything they do?
As far as I can tell, babies just look at a place and say to themselves “There. I want to go there” and then they try to do it. If (when) they fail, they don’t bother thinking “I’ll never be able to do this. I am such a disappointment. I should just give up“. Instead, after just a few seconds of confusion, they try again. And then again.
After each attempt they make subtle variations to what they are doing compared to their previous attempts. They don’t consciously remember what they tried before. They don’t realize what they change. All they know is “Again. I want to go there.“, and then with that feeling or thought inside them, they try.
Little by little something inside them figures out how their center of gravity needs to shift, which muscles need to be fired in tandem and how visual and touch information needs to be used. Another magical part of them tracks which muscles need growing because they aren’t strong enough and gets marked so that when they sleep that night, the muscles can grow so they get bigger and stronger.
Do you honestly think babies plan all of this? Oddly enough, despite all the unbelievable effort and planning that is required, most babies achieve their goal.
Is it effortless? When we as adults look at it, we admire their effort and persistence.
When the babies look at it, they don’t see it as effort or persistence. All they see is “Goal. Try. Goal. Try. Tired. Goal. Try. Goal. Try. Yay. I did it“. That’s all it was to them. No effort. Just try something they wanted to do until they got it.
All the success and motivational gurus talk about the HOW (the steps and the plan), and the WHY (the motivation and the desire). They claim that you can never really achieve your goals without clearly answering the HOW and the WHY questions.
Ask a child who is thinking “I want“, “But why?” and the reply would just be “because I want“.
What else is there to say? Why would it need another reason? Why would it need to justify why it wants something? Isn’t the fact that it wants something enough? Ask it “How?” and the reply again would be something like “I want. I try.“. Ask it “But the steps?” and the response will be “I want. I try.“. And just with that brilliant “plan” a child sets out and achieves its goals.
Imagine that. No creating detailed plans. No building or finding motivation. But still, Goal achieved. All the while, adults who love to spend hours, days, weeks and months in plotting and planning and self-motivating and visualizing never get anywhere with our goals.
Now a common protest might be “But we can’t use this children’s approach. Our goals are much more complex. Children use it for easy stuff, like crawling, walking, controlling their body, proprioception, learning multiple languages“. But then we realize that all these things are actually pretty complex. Anyone learning to dance or learning a second language as an adult can attest to this.
Without doubt, babies seem to have a better method than us adults for learning. Additionally, this method of learning allows us to master all kinds of diverse skills effortlessly. No need for how. No need for why. No need for detailed plans. Act or try first, and modify based on feedback.
As adults capable of reading and learning faster, searching for Youtube videos of people doing the same thing, we have an advantage that can accelerate the learning process even further once we get started. This approach is the ideal middle ground.
A way of achieving goals that combines the best of the child’s simple try-first approach and the adult’s research based one. A way that cuts through all the procrastination, confusion, fear, and excuses and lets us achieve our goals with the focus and intensity and speed that we were designed to achieve.