The three step learning strategy TCI has used since 2004

The learning strategy is a simple but profound coaching framework that may redefine what you think learning is.

This learning strategy is something we’ve taught at TCI since 2004 to train people who have no coaching experience and help them become some of the most professional coaches around the world.

It’s a really simple but profound coaching framework.

What do you think learning is? A common answer is studying or researching something.

Well, sure. I could open the manuals and watch the videos and see someone do it and take notes—but that’s not learning.

It’s just the first stage.

A lot of people stop there. They do what’s called Shelf Help. They take the self help books and they read them then they put them on their shelf.

They don’t do anything about it. They think their learning is done. In reality, they have to move onto the second stage.

This is called self application.

We learn amazingly well when we apply learning to ourselves. It gets our minds working for us instead of against us.

There’s a completely different realm of experiences and different series of neurons that fire off in our minds when we just think about something vs we try it on.

We apply it to ourselves, and then we can reflect and say, ‘What did I learn from giving this a go?’ compared to stage one where we’re what’s called disassociated.

That’s when we’re thinking about it but it’s still out there in the ether. To apply it, bring it inside and say ‘I’m giving this a go, I’m learning so much more about it.’

At one time in my life I was looking for a functional and healthy and loving relationship. I wasn’t in one at the time. So to prepare myself I was reading books on relationships and thought to myself, ‘Well, I know a lot about this.’

What I actually knew about was just the theory of relationships because I hadn’t moved to stage two yet, which was to apply it.

Then I got into a real relationship and I took a little hit to the ego because I realised I actually didn’t know as much as I thought I did.

Stage three in the learning strategy is to teach something to someone else.

This is a deeper level of learning. Have you heard the saying before, ‘If you want to know something really well, teach it to other people’?

It’s a different way of thinking about something, to learn if for yourself vs learning it in a way that enables you to know it so well you can teach it to someone else.

One of the things we do inside our school is create a way for our students to go through three stages constantly.

They can attend a class, apply it to themselves then teach it to another student. That way they’re really learning. What happens when someone goes through all three stages is their competence increases and when competence goes up, confidence goes up.

And that’s the point of learning. It gives us more confidence in the area we want to apply it to. So for example, talking about coaching going through these three stages allows you to have more confidence in your ability to coach.

A lot of people don’t do this. They watch webinar after webinar, read book after book—they never actually do the other two stages so their confidence never goes up.

Then they end up creating this little cycle where they say, ‘I’m not good enough, I’m afraid’, and they never end up taking action and moving.

Still here? That means you're a thinker and might be, uh, motivated to come to the 'Ultimate You Ultimate Coach' virtual coaching summit on November 21. Click here, and I'll save you a spot.

In the meantime, I want to encourage you to move through the three stages of learning:

  • Learn about something. Think and reflect.
  • Apply it to yourself. Try it on, have a go and see what learning gives you.
  • Tell someone else about it. Share it with a client or a partner. See if you can get it to make sense to another person, then you will understand what you’re learning at an even deeper level.

Matt Lavars is one of Australia's leading coaches, trainers and speakers, and head facilitator at The Coaching Institute. In between mentoring thousands of coaches and leaders all around Australasia and helping others build incredible culture, Matt is passionate about fitness and music. His healthy office lunches whipped up in five minutes are the stuff of legend.

Matt Lavars
Matt LavarsThe Coaching Institute