Five Steps to Learning a New Skill

Some people make it happen, some people watch it happen, and some people say “What happened?” – Anonymous –

Skill development is a key to success in any venture. Skills are sets of behaviors that must be learned. They are not acquired automatically, but take work to develop and use. Here’s how you can start.

Lewin/Bennis Johnson
  • Unfreezing
  • Change
  • Refreezing
  1. Becoming aware of the need and uses for the new skill.
  2. Identifying the behaviors involved in the new skill.
  3. Practicing the behaviors.
  4. Receiving feedback on how well you are performing the behaviors.
  5. Integrating the skill into your behavioral repertoire.

When trying a new skill, you may feel some anxiety. It isn’t comfortable to try out new behaviors. They don’t “fit” yet. To overcome this natural, normal sensation of nervousness, just relax! You’ll get a handle on the skill with continued practice.


Bennis, Warren; Schein, Edgar; Steele, Fred; & Berlew, David. (1968). Personal change through interpersonal relationships. In Interpersonal dynamics: Essays and readings on human interaction (pp. 333-369). Homewood, IL: Dorsey.
Authors discuss the three step process of developing a new skill first presented by the social psychologist Kurt Lewin.

Johnson, David W. (1972) Reaching out: Interpersonal effectiveness and self-actualization (p. 6). Engelwood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
Author presents a five step process of developing a new skill.

Tubbs, Stewart L. (1984). A systems approach to small group interaction (2nd ed.) (pp. 334-337). Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.
Author presents both Lewin’s and Johnson’s models for learning a new skill.

Schein, Edgar H. (n.d.). Kurt Lewin’s change theory in the field and in the classroom: Notes toward a model of managed learning. (PDF).
Schein is one of the authors of the Bennis et. al. book chapter listed above. He presents an excellent discussion of Lewin’s change theory.


Watch this video for a new view of learning anything — you will see that the idea of breaking down skills is huge, but there is more to it than that — you need to define precisely what you want to learn and pre-commit to spending at least twenty hours to learn it.


Looking for the Littlest Bit

Wanting to Feel Better

Everyone feels down sometimes, and some people feel extremely bad for long periods of time. When we feel bad, we look for something to help us feel better.

This can be something we do, or an affirmation from another person. Let me suggest that when you look for something to help you feel better, look for the littlest bit.

What is the littlest bit? Simply, it is something that helps you feel the smallest amount better that actually is better! Looking for the littlest bit keeps you from trying to find something that will make you feel a whole bunch better, like hitting the jackpot at a casino or going on a cruise. It is a common mistake to think that we need something big like that to make us feel better. We often find ourselves overlooking the small pleasures of life.

Here’s a list of littlest bits I wrote recently. (I left a few blank lines to fill in later.) What would you put on your list? Your list would look different from mine or anyone else’s, since each of us are unique individuals.

Think about all the little things you enjoy doing. Write out your list, then start putting some littlest bits into each of your days. Taken together, they will make a whole bunch of difference!

My List of Littlest Bits

  1. Calling a friend
  2. Helping someone hurting
  3. Eating an ice cream sandwich
  4. Taking a deep breath
  5. A cat sitting in my lap
  6. Getting a hug
  7. Hugging someone
  8. Telling a story
  9. Listening to a story
  10. Working on my computer
  11. Taking a shower
  12. Sleeping ten extra minutes
  13. The sun warming my face
  14. The wind rustling in leaves
  15. Hearing a clean joke
  16. Lying down on clean sheets
  17. Smelling dinner cooking
  18. Doing a good job on a task
  19. Getting a compliment
  20. Giving a compliment
  21. Stretching
  22. Getting dressed neatly
  23. Listening to music
  24. Getting a note or card
  25. Sending a note or card
  26. Learning something new
  27. Talking about old times
  28. Getting a milkshake or Frosty
  29. Taking a bubble bath
  30. Juggling
  31. Walking my dog
  32. Solving a problem
  33. Smelling a flower
  34. Holding a baby
  35. Remembering holding a baby
  36. Making a wish upon a star
  37. Listening to a Talking Book
  38. Drinking a Coke
  39. Getting a neck rub
  40. Making a plan
  41. Saying “I love you” to someone
  42. Making this list!
  43. ___________________________
  44. ___________________________
  45. ___________________________
  46. ___________________________
  47. ___________________________
  48. ___________________________
  49. ___________________________
  50. ___________________________

Write It Down, Make It Happen

“Failing to plan is planning to fail.”

Denis Waitley is quoted as saying “the reason most people never reach their goals is that they don’t define them, learn about them, or even seriously consider them as believable or achievable. Winners can tell you where they are going, what they plan to do along the way, and who will be sharing the adventure with them.”

Much of the thrust of my coaching is in assisting clients to define their goals, learn about them, and come to believe that they are achievable. You also need to develop specific plans of how you will accomplish each goal.

Writing your ideas down is essential to making them happen! Seeing your goals in black and white makes them come alive. Writing down your goals and a plan of action for achieving them creates a “road map” to guide you on your journey.

The following exercises can provide a tremendous boost toward success. Choose the statements you believe will help you achieve your dreams, then write them out. Your primary tool for creating these vital personal statements will be your own personal reflection. In addition, I will guide you through the process with open-ended questions, selected readings, inventories, and checklists.

  1. Your Passion Statement (a listing of your most prized interests and concerns).
  2. Your Personal Gratitude List (a list of everything you can think of that you are grateful for).
  3. Your Personal Creed (a statement of your core values).
  4. Your Personal Vision Statement (a clearly stated sketch of who you are and where you want to grow).
  5. Your Personal Mission Statement (detailing your purpose in life).
  6. Your Dependable Strengths Profile (a statement of the strengths you have demonstrated in your lifetime).
  7. Your Personal Preferences Profile (an outline of your preferences in important areas of your life).
  8. Your Personality Profile (an outline of your personality traits).
  9. Your Personal Development Plan (a detailed plan of how you will develop the skills you need to succeed, including long- and short-term goals, persons who will assist, resources that will be required, and a time for completion of each task and objective).
  10. A Force-field Analysis of the restraining and propelling forces in your life (the barriers to your success, and the positive influences around you).