Have you ever attempted to learn a new skill, or develop a new habit? Of course you have...and if you're like many, you've probably set yourself up for failure by doing this ONE harmless, yet destructive, thing...
When a dolphin is trained to jump out of the water and over 20-foot poles for public entertainment(I'm not for it, but the metaphor fits), they start by placing that pole in the water, and when the dolphin swims over the pole, it is rewarded. But when it swims underneath the pole, it is not rewarded.
When the dolphin begins to notice the pattern, the pole is raised little by little over time. This reward system helps the dolphin experience "micro-wins". This process is repeated many times, until eventually the pole is out of the water and the dolphin is leaping through the air and over the poles.
The end result is astonishing, but we have to remember that we didn't see all the training behind the scenes that helped the dolphin develop confidence through achieving micro-wins while being rewarded. We saw the accumulated effort in one snapshot. It's the "overnight success" effect.
Here are 3 keys to remember when learning new skills or developing new habits:
"Motivation is what gets you started.
Habit is what keeps you going."
- Jim Rohn
When we decide to build a new skill, or build a new habit, we should always consider this dolphin training metaphor in our approach. Too often, we start with the pole too high, which sets us up to fail.
For example, you might want to improve your health by deciding that you're going to exercise 5 days per week at 1 hour per workout session, when you haven't worked out in 3 years.
Instead, you might want to "Dolphin that shit". This is a term that came out of my mouth at one of my Greatest Year Conferences. I was sharing this dolphin metaphor and I blurted out, "Just dolphin that shit!"
Instead of trying to go too big too fast, start small and let yourself experience small wins, then build on it.
In our exercise example, you can start with 2 days per week at 20 mins per session for the first month, and be sure to reward yourself! Then, increase to 3 days per week at 30 mins per session for the next month. Then, 3 days at 45-mins...then, 3 days at an hour...then, 4 days at an hour.
In that example, you would be giving yourself plenty of micro-wins for dopamine/motivation by starting with easy wins, thus increasing the chances of follow through and success. But remember, just like anything, it won't work unless YOU work for it. This strategy doesn't make habit change easy, but it increases the chances of long-term success.
I'm curious, what area in your life is it time to apply this dolphin approach?
Dolphin that shit,