Learning Practices

The most critical mindset shift needed during this training phase (which could last years) is to accept that to learn something new AND become good at it, we have to slow down to overthink everything. 

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“Mom, I know this sounds weird, but I’m much better the first day of volleyball practice; then I always get worse over time,” my daughter quipped. 

As my kids have gotten older, we have more conversations about the effort and persistence it takes to succeed at anything. 

We consistently remind them that it takes years for most people to turn their potential into something they perceive to be outwardly successful. 

But we are often fooled by beginner’s luck: when we win a few rounds of poker the first time we learn how to play or surprise ourselves by hitting the bull’s eye in the first few attempts at dart-throwing. 

It’s a sweet surprise when we’re automatically great at something. But that initial greatness doesn’t translate to consistent greatness, which makes us wonder if we’re cut out for the task. 

Instead, we need to ignore the initial beginner’s luck – it tells us very little about our ultimate success. 

Moving past beginner’s luck

When we want to be consistently great at something, we first need to learn the mechanics. That means slowing down to practice different parts of the job. 

We can do that by seeking formal training, like a degree or certificate, getting mentorship or coaching, reading and trying, and then applying and practicing those skills.

During that training phase, we might become frustrated. It’s the highest risk time for giving up because we start to feel MORE inept before we start to feel accomplished. 

The most critical mindset shift needed during this training phase (which could last years) is to accept that to learn something new AND become good at it, we have to slow down to overthink everything

That slowing down can feel very frustrating. 

You might feel like an imposter or embarrassed and awkward. 

Do you give up, or do you choose to work through it?

The greatest players hone their talent and strengths by investing time in constant learning at higher levels, persevering until the mechanics get so easy that they no longer have to think about it and could allow the talent to take over, this time with greater accuracy.

It’s the gap between raw talent and consistent success.


  • Mira Brancu, PhD

    Leadership, Team & Organization Development Expert | Award-winning Psychologist & Social Impact Firm | Learning & Innovation Industries | Women in Leadership & Inclusive Leadership

    Brancu & Associates

    Dr. Mira Brancu helps executives and their teams to lead well today and better navigate tomorrow. As the CEO and Founder of Brancu & Associates, she drives a leadership, team, and organization consulting firm that has provided the streamlined strategic advising and tailored growth tools to more than 150 leaders and hundreds more team members, equipping them to manage current challenges and better handle future ones. She brings two decades of experience in academia and healthcare, and an award-winning career in multiple leadership roles at the US Department of Veterans Affairs, one of the largest organizations in the United States. As a consulting psychologist, she has spoken for thousands, is an Associate Professor for Duke University’s School of Medicine, and writes for Psychology Today. She co-authored the acclaimed book for emerging leaders needing to navigate complex systems, Millennials’ Guide to Workplace Politics: What No One Ever Told Your About Power and Influence. Through her sustained commitment to advocacy and empowerment of women’s leadership and diverse leadership, Brancu & Associates received the 2021 Corporate Philanthropy Award from Triangle Business Journal. Mira is a licensed psychologist who holds a PhD in clinical psychology, a Master’s degree in counseling, and certificates in business essentials; diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI); Lean Six Sigma; and Transformational and Mentor Coaching.