How to Master Any Skill and Learn Faster Than Everyone Else
In September 2019, we surveyed 3,000 people on the WAG Coach Certification waitlist. One of the questions was, “What is the biggest obstacle preventing you from becoming a nutrition coach?”
The most popular response? A lack of confidence.
We heard hundreds of variations of, “I’m passionate about nutrition, but I don’t have an academic background in it – so who the hell am I to help others?”
If you’re interested in becoming a nutrition coach, but you’re held back by fear – this article is for you.
The world needs great nutrition coaches now more than ever before. We have access to overwhelming amounts of free nutrition information – yet we face higher levels of obesity than ever before.
People don’t need more information. They need a guide.
They need someone who can synthesize all of that information into manageable chunks.
They need someone to help them build simple habits that become their new lifestyle rather than a temporary diet that they’re “on” or “off.”
They need your attention and your accountability, and they need it now.
It’s time to take the leap to do what you so deeply want to do. The information I’ll share below can be applied to nutrition coaching, starting a podcast, writing, public speaking, or any other skill you yearn to pursue.
When you apply the steps I’ve outlined below, you will:
- Have the power to boldly pursue anything you want in life (even if you still have some fear or self-doubt).
- Have a sense of control over your future and pride that you’re living your ideal life.
- Be able to learn any skill faster (including becoming an world-class nutrition coach).
Let’s begin by going over my own story — the one about how I put my dream on hold for over four years due to fear.
In 2016, I’d been hosting the Brute Strength Podcast for about one year. My dream, however, was to do solo podcasts. There was so much I wanted to say, and I knew in my heart I could share information that would help people.
I gave myself the excuse, however, that I lacked the necessary experience to do solo podcasts. I also told myself there wasn’t enough time in my schedule.
Giving myself excuses continued for another four full years.
My longing to do solo podcasts kept deepening, and I continued... not doing them. I genuinely believed that my long list of excuses was the reason I didn’t do solo podcasts.
It turns out that was bullshit. The real reason I didn’t do them?
I was scared out of my mind to do solo podcasts. I spent years delaying something I deeply yearned to do because of fear.
And here is the mistake I want to help you avoid: I believed I had to be confident before I started.
The truth is that you absolutely do not need to be confident to start. I learned this in late 2019 after speaking with the awesome David Epstein and doing some of my own research about how to become an expert at a skill (I’ll share the specifics on this research below!).
There is a happy ending to my story. Thanks to the new information I acquired, I did begin doing solo podcasts. I recorded 3 solo podcasts per week for 8 weeks in a row, and I continue to do them when I feel inspired.
In doing this, I overcame one of the biggest fears in my life which has given me an enormous sense of pride. It’s like a huge weight was lifted off of my shoulders. I feel fully self-expressed.
By following the recommendations I’ll outline for you below, I developed a new skill that has made me a more confident human being. I carry myself differently now because I’m not hiding from anything anymore.
Now it’s your turn. I want to help you get past your fear in whatever you yearn to pursue.
First let’s cover two common myths:
I need to be confident before I can do something.
Nope. Were you confident as a baby when you were learning to walk? No, you sucked at it.
But you were committed.
You got up, fell down, and you did that another 15,000 times before you were halfway decent at walking.
Think about another thing or two that you’re skilled at now. Were you confident at that thing when you started? Probably not. Confidence is not a prerequisite to getting started.
All of the successful nutrition coaches are super confident all the time.
Nope. My wife, Adee, has personally coached over 1,000 people, including CrossFit Games athletes, Olympians, NFL players, and more. She has spoken on stages and podcasts about nutrition.
And — on a regular basis, Adee experiences self-doubt and insecurity about her coaching.
These feelings are no longer the predominant ones, but they absolutely still reappear from time to time. The difference now is that she’s learned to acknowledge those emotions without letting them control her.
After being a coach for over 6 years, Adee is one of the most competent nutrition coaches in the world – which has led to a great deal of confidence.
Now that we’ve gotten those myths out of the way, our question becomes:
How do we go from wanting to do something (and being full of fear), to starting to do the thing, to kicking butt at the thing — and fulfilling our dreams?
It goes like this:
Step 1: Be committed.
Before you start doing something, you don’t really deserve to be confident. You just have to commit to taking the leap.
Step 2: When you are committed and take the leap, then you can practice your skill by actually doing the thing. This quickly leads to competency – in other words, being good at something.
Step 3: The more competent you become, the more confident you become.
Step 4: The more confident you become, the easier it is to stay committed.
Step 5: The cycle continues, and you grow in the direction of mastery. You’re no longer held back by fear or self-doubt.
*One important thing to mention: the goal is not to get rid of negative feelings. The goal is to develop a different response to them. Instead of allowing them to hold us back, we can learn to take action in spite of them.
Here is how I used those steps above to pursue solo podcasts:
In January of this year, one of my mentors inspired me to jump into the deep end with my solo podcasts. Despite being deathly afraid that people might not like my podcasts, I was committed to doing them — and that commitment mattered more than the fear.
After the first podcast, 90 percent of my fear was gone. 10 percent of my fear remained.
After the second podcast, 90 percent of the fear that was left disappeared. (Don’t get out your calculator yet – basically, the fear dissipated very quickly).
After a couple of weeks, I started to learn how to improve my solo podcasts. I became more competent.
As I became more competent, I started to become confident in my ability to make these podcasts valuable so they could help people.
Before I learned those steps above, I pursued solo podcasts the wrong way. I spent many years trying to become more competent hoping it would lead to confidence. I did hundreds of podcast interviews with other people. I listened to other people do solo podcasts. I even practiced writing and preparing for my own solo podcasts (without actually doing them).
I was trying to get better at doing the thing by watching others do it, reading about it, thinking about it, but without actually ever doing it.
None of these efforts to become competent had any impact on the 800 lb. gorilla on my back — fear.
Let’s return to David Epstein, the guy I mentioned above who changed my thinking around this topic. He’s the author of The Sports Gene and his most recent book Range.
David and I discussed the attributes of people who learn (and become competent) fastest:
- These people actually do the thing. They don’t just read about the thing, write about it, think about it, or watch videos on it. They practice doing it.
- They get feedback along the way to let them know if they are doing a good job or not. When I began recording solo podcasts, I recruited 5 ambassadors to give me feedback after each episode. This helped me tremendously!
- They are what David called “Self-Regulatory Learners”. They have a tendency to reflect on their own performance rather than just going through the motions. A great way to do this is by journaling and asking yourself questions like:
- “What is going well?”
- “What could I be doing even better?”
- “What can I focus on improving next time?”
This podcast fired me up so much. I continued doing research about building competence (and confidence), and I discovered another concept that corroborated David’s work. It’s called the Learning Pyramid.
The Learning Pyramid, developed by the National Training Laboratory, suggests that most students only remember about 10 percent of what they read from textbooks, but they retain nearly 90 percent of what they learn through teaching others. Basically, the further down the pyramid you go, the more information you’ll retain, speeding up the pace of your learning.
Why is this true? Well, when we read or listen to a book or a lecturer, our mind does not need to be fully engaged. It’s definitely possible to read without really absorbing what we are reading.
When we start conversing about what we’ve learned in a discussion group or with a friend, however, our brain must truly engage with the information. We cannot just robotically repeat what we read or heard without sounding incoherent.
When we start practicing (i.e. actually doing the thing), we begin to understand the thing on many new levels.
We could read about riding a bike for 10 years and still not know how to ride a bike. We could watch others ride. We could even talk about riding a bike based on what we’ve read, citing all of the common mistakes people make.
But actually getting on the bike is the only way we truly learn how to ride.
Once we’ve been actually practicing the thing for a while, we can synthesize your learnings in order to teach others.
When teaching others, we must understand something deeply enough to distill the most important aspects of the thing down to someone that doesn’t understand it yet. We must be able to break it down into its component parts. Teaching others stretches our mind to understand something at the deepest level.
After learning all of this, I realized that passive learning (reading, watching videos, listening to podcasts) would only give me a fraction of the learning experience vs. jumping in and trying things out. I realized that the faster I could get myself to start actually practicing, the faster I would become competent and move beyond my fears.
Armed with that knowledge, I jumped into solo podcasts.
Now let’s apply this information to you. As an aspiring nutrition coach who might not feel confident enough to begin coaching others, how can you use this information to pursue your passion and help others?
Follow these steps:
- Commit. Plant your metaphorical flag in the ground and declare to yourself that you are going to become a nutrition coach. Make the commitment that you will begin to take action today – even if it’s just one step.
- Design a plan of action for yourself to begin practicing nutrition coaching so you can develop the skills needed to become a competent coach.
- Get feedback. Ideally, your feedback should come from a more experienced coach. It can also come from your clients.
- Reflect on your performance through journaling or something similar.
- As you become more confident in your skills, maintain all of the above habits. This is the path to true mastery.
If you’re ready to make that commitment to yourself, consider the WAG Coach Certification. The next group starts soon.
The WAG Coach Certification includes every aspect of what I discussed in this article. It consists of 6 phases. When you sign up, you can begin the course immediately or start whenever is convenient for you.
First, you’ll learn the fundamentals of nutrition science. Then you will learn how to set and change macronutrient profiles and design custom nutrition plans for clients.
Next, you will start actually doing the thing by practicing coaching. You will create nutrition plans for sample clients, and you will get feedback from your digital mentor.
Throughout the course, you will practice working with clients while getting feedback from one of our most experienced coaches. This coach will be with you every step of the way.
You’ll also have ample opportunities to reflect on your performance in order to accelerate your learning.
The most common feedback we get from our Coach Certification students is that, upon graduating, they finally feel confident enough to use their knowledge to coach others.
It's one thing to read something and pick an answer on a multiple choice test. It's another when you're actually able to apply what you just studied. The feedback from my coach was extremely helpful. I never once felt lost in this program. Everything was very clear and relatable. I feel confident that no matter what my clients are going through, I will be able to support them.” – Heather
The content was just right, and I enjoyed having a real life person read over the material and give feedback versus just a computer grading the work. It gives you confidence and shows where there’s room for improvement and growth. I am very confident in being able to help others, especially with the help of seasoned coaches by my side.” – Mandy
This course has been tested and proven with over 22,000 clients and counting.
In the course, you’ll develop an understanding of nutrition science as well as knowledge and skills in the psychology of eating. You’ll become one of the rare people that can help people adopt a nutrition system that fits their lifestyle rather than a yo-yo diet that they are either “on” or “off.”
Want to learn a bit more? Check out THIS PODCAST!
Whether you already have experience coaching or you’re just getting started, the WAG Coach Certification is one of the boldest commitments you can make to yourself and your future clients.
When you graduate, you’ll also be eligible to enroll in the WAG Business Program. As a business program member, we will help you with one of the most intimidating aspects of becoming a coach — how to get (and keep!) clients.
You will also gain access to our proprietary software, Seismic, where you can coach those clients.
If you want to make a meaningful impact in the lives of others by helping them develop a healthy relationship with their bodies and the food they eat and by helping them become more confident in their own skin — this program is for you.
If you want to join the digital economy, be your own boss, make your own hours, and work from wherever you want — this program is for you.
Don’t make the same mistake I made by putting this off for another four years. We only get one shot at life — and every minute matters.