How to Get Better at Just About Anything


Have you ever learned a new skill and noticed it took for-bloomin’-ever to get good at it?

Maybe you just had a junior high basketball flashback! B.E.E.F. anyone? (Maybe that was just me). Or perhaps you remember learning to play piano or guitar. Or, it may have seemed it took you longer than most to get that squat form just right at the gym.

Whatever skill came roaring into your mind, the point is that learning something new always takes time. And it’s quite scientific.

To get better at just about anything, we have to accomplish motor learning.

Motor learning happens through 4 stages.

The first – unconscious incompetence.

This is when we have no clue how to do it right, and we’re pretty bad at it. Think a baby learning to walk – terrible, right?

The second stage – conscious incompetence.

This is when you know how to do the skill, but your body is struggling to keep up.

Then you hit the third-conscious competence.

At least at this point you can perform the skill, but you still have to think about it awfully hard.

Then…duh duh duh (hear – movie soundtrack crescendo)…

The fourth-unconscious competence.

This is the point where you’re automatic. Your fingers naturally go to the right keys without thinking. You swing that golf club and the ball soars off the tee. You perform 5 reps of squats with no failure of form and no pain.

The tricky thing is that to get to that 4th wonderful stage, we have to do a lot of practicing, a ton of messing up, a bunch more thinking, and a truckload of trying again.

Well, a few weeks ago my friend taught me a valuable lesson about motor learning.

She and her family went on a long trip across country. From what I understand, it was the kind of trip National Lampoon movies are made of. You know the ones – Murphy’s Law trips – if anything can go wrong, it will.

As she chronicled her trip on social media, she was quite chipper about it all. So much so that her friends repeatedly asked her,

How on earth are you still so positive after all that’s been going on?

Her initial Southern – humble and self-deprecating – answer was,

Oh. You’d do the same thing if it was you.

But then she thought about it a little more. She dug deep and asked herself why she responded the way she had. She stepped back and looked at the situation from the outside and was honestly a little shocked herself.

Then she was filled with gratitude and praise.

You see – in no way would she claim to be perfect. As a matter of fact, she’d be happy to tell you how she isn’t. But, she’d likely be just as happy to tell you about her history and her faith.

Through her life, she – like you and me – has had plenty of opportunities to grow her faith in God.

She’s practiced a lot.

Messed up a ton.

Thought a whole bunch.

And tried again a truckload of times.

Through the years she’s honed her skills of——–

Trusting God.

I’m sure early in her walk she had to think about it a lot and still made mistakes. Then she was able to make fewer mistakes while she still focused on doing things the right way and walking with God.

Then…duh duh duh. It became automatic.

When she was faced with adversity – and then some more adversity, God had already prepared her heart to trust in Him and know it was all going to be okay. She had practiced for just such a time as that, and her “spiritual learning” kicked in. She didn’t have to think about it, she just did it.

Does she always get it right? I bet she’d say no. Because she – like you and me – is still learning.

So, if you want to get better at just about anything – whether it’s a physical skill or spiritual discipline…

It’s a process, and you’ll get there, as long as you’re still doing a lot of practicing, a ton of messing up, a bunch of thinking, and a truckload of trying. And, we’ll throw in a heaping helping of prayer to top it of.

Your DoAhead Friend,


About Adrian Jessen

Adrian Jessen has worked as a Physical Therapist, Certified Athletic Trainer, and Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist for over 14 years. She is currently pursuing a Master’s in Life Coaching from Liberty University. Her passion is helping women reach their goals! That’s right – Adrian’s passion is YOU! Her desire is that you would realize that your goals of physical, spiritual, and mental health are so much more achievable than you ever dreamed. Adrian is a monthly contributor to DoAhead Woman but you can receive weekly inspiration from Adrian by visiting her at

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