Three Things Not To Say Or Do…When Trying To Learn Something New

Hey there!

Whenever I start teaching a new set of students one of my courses, I offer them some advice to help things “stick.”

And it probably won’t surprise anyone to know that when I take a class, I have to remind myself of the same three things so I engage more deeply with the content.

Here they are:

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Hope this helps!


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hey there it’s David H Lawrence the 17th
and I mentioned in another video that I
wanted to share with you some directly
applicable skills we started teaching
the ACX master class this week it’s week
number one as I record this video and at
the beginning of the classes that I
teach I offer three little tiny very
powerful pieces of advice about what not
to do when you first start a class or a
learning process or a skill building
process or some sort of ongoing
situation we’re gonna learn something
some people take classes about subjects
they know nothing about some people take
classes about things they know a little
bit about want to know more some people
take classes to brush up on skills in
areas that they know very very well and
these three things apply no matter what
so the first of the three things not to
do is to allow yourself to be distracted
and by that I mean this little dangerous
puppy right put it on silent and do not
disturb try to avoid the whole notion of
checking your email as you’re learning
because you never know when that golden
nugget is gonna come along right when
you’re trying to figure out if you’ve
replied to your mom about dad’s birthday
or who knows what you’re doing it says
some something happens a sports score
pops up who knows
try not to be distracted and it’s an
overt thing and it’s a really easy thing
you know hold the buttons down that you
need to hold down and slide that little
slider across that says you know turn me
off and just for the time that you’re
learning give your full and undivided
attention to the person speaking that’s
trying to help you out that’s one the
second thing not to do is to say the
phrase oh I knew that already yeah thank
you because
yeah you might know the concept already
you might know everything the speaker is
going to say already but you might not
the speaker might be presenting
something to you that in theory you
understand very well but they may
present a twist to it that gives you
that little tiny adjustment that makes
it all click or that makes things even
better for you or that enlightens you
about something that you didn’t quite
understand before and kind of let go
it’s like I don’t really need to know
that I mean I got the gist of it I I
understand enough of it to be able to
take advantage of it which is great but
what if you could take advantage of it
fully by that one little thing that
somebody said that you didn’t ignore
because you didn’t say I knew that
already I knew that already
and the third thing is something that
was hard for me to learn because we all
make instant judgments about the
filtering of information that we get we
get so much information coming at us all
day long we definitely have to put up
some guard and some filters some
barriers to adjust to what’s important
you know not everything that’s coming at
us has the same signal strength not
everything has the same importance and
we have to kind of figure out what
matters what we can let fly by us
what’s purely like nothing to do with me
so that’s the thing try not to say that
doesn’t apply to me
because you may be right it may not
apply to you but it might in a way that
you aren’t expecting so we’re teaching
people my method of editing and most
people don’t know that method already
the stair step method of editing audio
books they don’t know that already and
so they don’t usually say that part but
they do often say oh I already know why
that doesn’t apply to me because I use
punch and roll
okay but if you just let it be open to
you for the moment I mean look you’re
paying to to be taught right whether
it’s with money or with your time or
with the opportunity cost in sitting at
a class and not doing something else
that could be fruitful for you so you’re
paying in some way shape or form why not
give that moment every opportunity every
ounce of potential that you can I’ve had
people who are dead set against learning
anything other than punch and roll this
is just an example but when they see how
my method works when they see how the
stair step method works they’re like
almost embarrassed to say wow I was
really ready to reject this whole sale
just didn’t apply to me because I
already knew how to do punch and roll
but boy am I glad I did because I mean I
I have some advantages now that I didn’t
have before and the other half of that
is when you say this doesn’t apply to me
that’s a defense mechanism to say I
already know what I’m talking about I
already have enough I have enough
knowledge in here and in my particular
case what you have to offer me is
worthless and it could be any shade of
that but the point is if you let your
mind say yeah this doesn’t apply to me
then you could be potentially leaving
some table stakes on the table you could
be leaving a golden nugget or two lying
around that could be useful because you
can’t predict what’s going to be useful
when you simply open your mind up to the
possibilities of what’s being presented
now is there a chance that yeah it
doesn’t apply to you and you did know
that already and you really wouldn’t
have been distracted all that much by
your phone there’s a chance I’m gonna
pause it that the chance is smaller than
you think and the potential upside is
larger than you think I can’t tell you
the number of times that I’ve been in a
training session where I felt that urge
to go okay I got that let’s move on
let’s go when the instructor has said
something that was like oh
okay I’m glad I just paid attention I’m
glad I didn’t try and figure out what I
was gonna have for lunch at that moment
right so do these things resonate with
you do these things make sense to you
any one of these things the don’t let
yourself be distracted
don’t say I knew that already and don’t
say this doesn’t apply to me has that
ever happened to you when you’ve been
surprised that maybe it did apply to you
and you didn’t know something already
and the distraction was larger than you
thought it would be or are you listening
to this and going yeah you know David
these these skills that you have that I
knew that already and they don’t apply
to me and by the way I need to check my
email let me know in the comments below
I’d love to hear from you if you want to
you know subscribe to my youtube channel
and know when these videos are being
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you’re watching this on vo to go go comm
that’s where I put them all I’m David H
Lawrence xvii I so appreciate you
watching these and I will talk to you



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  1. Well said. “Focused Immersion” is wonderful and when we allow ourselves to surrender to the moment and be open to it all, it can be so satisfying…almost blissful at times…especially if it’s something we are excited to learn about.
    Thanks David

  2. Thanks for the great advice David! I have found myself in each of those scenarios – 2 of 3 were certainly validated by your words. I’ve missed you, but I’m back and taking heed.

  3. All three points apply. It’s so hard to get our learning environments devoid of distractions. Not just phones, but also if you’re on the train, or with a family member or a friend who knows you’re on the training, but has to share that cool YouTube video. Or your kid has an emergency because your other kid is looking at them. Or your dog suddenly needs to go out and you are his only hope Obi-wan. As to your other points, we need to open our minds to the training we are taking and to new techniques or old techniques being used in different ways, etc. Thanks for the tips!

  4. Last week I attended a voice over workshop in my city, New Orleans. It was held by a local guy who is pretty “big”among voice talent here. I had to stop myself from comparing everything he said to you, David. I had to make myself stop being critical and just listen. I had to make myself stop thinking “I already know this”. As it turned out, when I opened my mind, I did learn a few things and got some practice with some copy in front of the class. It turned into a positive experience once I shut off my defensive thoughts. Still, he was no David H. Lawrence XVII !

  5. Want to hear something funny? I had to listen to a few minutes of this video 3x because I was trying to listen and check my phone at the same time. I literally wouldn’t have realized what I was doing if you hadn’t mentioned it as #1. Clearly that’s going to be a toughie for me.

  6. Love this reminder David. I have been voice acting for 15 years, but I still take Group Work Outs occasionally, and every single time I drive away saying to myself ” I needed to hear that material today!” I learn a new tip every time and every time I get coached on a habit to break.