“It isn’t the learning that’s so hard. It’s the unlearning” – Charlie Munger
If you learn something incorrectly and it becomes automated, it becomes a bad habit, and it is very hard to unlearn.
An excerpt from How To Become The Best at Anything, Chapter 8 – Deliberate Practice and Learning
Deliberate practice results in the automation of a sequence of steps. It is automated so you don’t have to consciously think about it while you are doing it, you just do it. Some people call this “muscle memory.” I don’t like this term since muscles have no memory. Repeat after me, “muscles have no memory.” This automated sequence of steps is in your memory, in your brain. Your brain places this automated sequence of steps into nice and neat “chunks,” so you do not have to consciously think about them.
Remember when you were first learning to drive a car. It was very difficult and stressful because you had to remember to do so many new things at the same time. Most DMVs require a minimum of 50 hours supervised behind-the-wheel experience before you may apply for a license if you are under 18. It takes 100 hours of deliberate practice before a complex sequence begins to fully automate. That is why it is so difficult in the beginning to drive a car in traffic.
Now that you have been driving for several years, when you are commuting home after work, you probably don’t think about driving, you suddenly find yourself at the freeway off-ramp and almost home. That is because your diving has become automated, if something unusual occurs, you instantly snap back into conscious thinking mode and make corrections to your driving.
This is also why you must practice good driving habits in the beginning, so you don’t automate a bad habit. Once a bad habit is automated, it is very hard to un-automate it and replace it with the correct automation. Learn the basics correctly the first time. This goes for all practice, for all domains.
A bad habit may be the cause of your poor performance. A bad habit that actives without you consciously thinking about it is very hard to correct, although not impossible. Bad habits may be your largest obstacle to becoming the best. A bad habit, like a good habit, is an automated sequence. You have to un-automate the bad sequence and replace it with the correct sequence so that the correct sequence becomes automated. How you do this will depend on the bad habit. Your coach will be able to help you with this.
To help correct a bad habit, think about what you should be doing. Do not focus on what you should not be doing. Focus on the positive. Focus on what you should be doing.