I was thinking about the initials for TARP, and it dawned on me that they apply to learning as well.
The first step towards gaining any new skill or changing any behavior is to try it. That’s probably the hardest leap for most people. It’s one thing to hear about it, read it, even role play it. It’s another thing to really try it. We need to be like the Gen Y’ers and technology – they take to it like a duck to water. My daughter doesn’t read directions – maybe she’ll check back with them if she needs – but she just goes and tries things.
Applying it – Now that you’ve tried the new skill or behavior, you need to apply it. How can you use it? How can it be helpful? Start using it in situations that count. At Lake Forest Graduate School of Management, I created service learning where class participants identify a skill they want to work on and apply it to something other than their job. It could be a project for their company or helping a nonprofit organization, but they need to actually apply and use the skill. That way they can learn it better.
Review – Once you’ve tried and applied the new learning, it’s time to review. This step is the one that is skipped so often. We learn something and then go and use it. But we don’t know if we’re doing it right or wrong. Last fall I tried to take the front tire off my bike so it would fit in my car and I could drive places to bike (like the lakefront, etc.) I couldn’t do it. I had seen it at the bike store when I bought the bike 2 years earlier. It seemed so easy watching them do it. Then I tried and couldn’t figure it out. (Turns out I broke my noodle, for you bike fans out there!) When I brought the bike to the shop to get fixed, I asked them to review it with me to figure out what I was doing wrong. Hopefully I’ll do it again (sooner then 2 years!) so I get to learn it better.
Which leads me to the P – Practice, practice, practice. My boss who was in behavior health says it takes 12-18 months to turn a skill into a habit. That only comes with practice. Think about driving a car. How are you now versus when you started (I’m hoping you’ll answer better!) That’s because you’ve gotten a lot of practice.
So try putting TARP to use for you, and bailout your new skills and behaviors, so that you’ll have habits that last a lifetime!