The state of our mind has a lot to do with the results we see in the world. It’s not that our actions come from nowhere. They originate from our thoughts. Eventually, the thoughts become actions. Our actions involved in learning anything are thus connected to our thoughts and attitudes. Having the right attitude is key to have good learning results.
A good attitude
In order to be able to learn something, we need to believe it’s possible for us. Only when we believe we can do something we give it a fair try. Otherwise, we might not even give it a chance. Why would you spend serious time playing soccer if you think you can’t improve and get better? Or why would you commit to studying chess for hours if you think you don’t have any talent for that?
To get results in anything in life we definitely need to stick to it for a certain period of time. If we don’t have a good attitude, it’s likely we are not going to put in the time. It’s not only the practice time, but it’s also the development time. We need to be patient about the process. Learning takes time. Valuable skills are not learned overnight. They always take time.
A good learning attitude involves patience, optimism, enthusiasm, and curiosity. When we develop these, we increase our chances of success in whatever we are learning. Someone patient, optimistic, and enthusiastic will usually learn better than someone who is not.
Attitude and talent
I believe that talent is not necessary to start to learn something. Also, depending on our personal goals we might not even need a big talent. What are your aspirations? If you just want to learn to play a song for yourself on the guitar, why would you worry about talent? If your aspiration were to become an international concert guitarist, it would be a different story. But, most of the times, we learn things just to enjoy them ourselves (or maybe to share them with a few people). If we don’t intend to make a living out of that, the skill level required to reach our goals probably is not that high.
In any case, even if we want to reach a high level of skillfulness in something, I think we can develop our talent, our ability to perform. Maybe we cannot change our IQ, but we can always learn better, more efficiently. We can adopt the right attitudes, which will yield the best results over time.
The attitudes we take are highly influenced by the people we surround ourselves with. If we spend time with positive people, we will tend to adopt that attitude ourselves. Just seeing someone with a good attitude accomplish their goals in life is very inspiring. That’s why, if we spend enough time with them, we will probably end up modeling them.
The catch is that this also works the other way around: spending time with negative, pessimistic people, also influences us (but negatively). If your friends tell you all the time that you’re good for nothing, untalented, chances are you’ll end up believing them.
Be very careful about this. Sometimes it’s good to be picky. Choose wisely your friendships. Spend time with those who empower you, those who believe in you. Support them and let them give you their support as well. That’s how you increase the likelihood of having a good learning attitude yourself (while you help those around you at the same time).
Nobody has total control over their learning results. It’s not that we decide to learn something and we will do it for sure. There are many factors and variables. But, there’s something we can definitely gain control over, and that’s our attitude.
Developing the right attitude is a decision. It’s a commitment to developing patience, humility, and other traits over time. And it’s something everybody can do.