Coach You

coach you



coach you

coach you


When did you last learn something new?

When did you last learn something new?


We are all learning new apps and digital shortcuts all the time but how about new skills, instruments or languages?  I read a great deal and yet believe unless the learning is integrated and applied it becomes lost, menopausal brain fog doesn’t help.


As Benjamin Franklin said “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn”. 


As we get older, we embark on new learning less and less often.  We come to regard ourselves as experts in our fields, aware of our respected importance.  It’s terrifying then, to be the newbie, the know-nothing, starter.  It makes one feel child-like and silly. 


“every act of conscious learning requires the willingness to suffer an injury to one’s self-esteem.  That is why young children before they are aware of their own self-importance, learn so easily” Thomas Szasz Hungarian American academic and psychiatrist.


When I started rowing, ten years ago at 47, I loved it but I don’t mind looking like an idiot and frequently laugh at myself. 

However, after ten years I am still struggling to master the sport and really feel for the new crew members who have just joined the sweep squad.  Having lost half our 1st crew this year to relocation and retirement,  we are trying to hot-house potentially talented women with practice, on and off the water and intense coaching.  There is exhaustion, hilarity, tears and tantrums and that’s just the coaches!


These are women 30 to 50 years old, in top jobs or running businesses, with families and lives outside of rowing!  Embracing a Beginners Mind is an act of faith: Coined by the Zen masters, “Shoshin” translates to the Beginner’s Mindset – that powerful place of curiosity and vulnerability.


It is incredibly challenging to take on a whole new skill like rowing and revert to being told what to do.


As Winston Churchill said, “I am always ready to learn although I do not always like being taught!”  


Getting it wrong in the boat, only occasionally right, again and again is physically uncomfortable and can be demoralising.  They may take over 1,000 strokes each 90 minute outing – that’s 1,000 attempts to get it right. 


So why bother?  Why not leave it to the youngsters?


 “In Buddhism, what is known as the Beginners mind is a way to look at the world as if for the first time:  with interest, enthusiasm and engagement.  This maybe the optimal state of mind for the healthy brain” Louis Cozolino, American psychologist.


So, here’s the thing, learning new things enhances our brain function and “plasticity” by creating new neural pathways.  According to the Harvard Health Review, it keeps our thinking skills sharp supports our memory, attention to detail, problem solving abilities and concentration.


It improves our confidence and gives us a dopamine hit when we feel the achievement of completing or even starting learning something new. 


Learning new skills, particularly which connect us with our body, such as sports, dance, arts and music keep us physically active and increase our energy levels which improve immunity.


Joining in with others, sharing the learning, or being involved in the teaching of these new skills puts us into the community, connecting with other people which supports our mental wellbeing through serotonin and dopamine production. There is nothing like the rush of adrenaline and ecstasy I get when the stroke is perfect, every crew member synchronised and the boat lifting and surging forward.  It makes every second of training worthwhile.


So go on, I dare you, take a dance class, pick up an instrument or go and join that language group. It’s good for you, whatever your age.  Get yourself some Soshin and have fun with it!


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