Tension vs. fear

Fear’s a dream killer. It puts people into suspended animation, holding their breath, paralyzed and unable to move forward.

Fear is present in many education settings, because fear’s a cheap way to ensure compliance. “Do this,” the teacher threatens, “or something bad is going to happen to you.”

The thing is, learning is difficult. If it was easy, you’d already know everything you need to know. And if you could do it on your own, you wouldn’t need the time or expense to do it with others.

But when we try to learn something on our own, we often get stuck. 

It’s not because of fear, it’s because of tension.

The tension we face any time we’re about to cross a threshold. The tension of this might work vs. this might not work. The tension of if I learn this, will I like who I become?

Tension is the hallmark of a great educational experience. The tension of not quite knowing where we are in the process, not being sure of the curriculum, not having a guarantee that it’s about to happen.

As adults, we willingly expose ourselves to the tension of a great jazz concert, or a baseball game or a thrilling movie. But, mostly because we’ve been indoctrinated by fear, we hesitate when we have the opportunity to learn something new on our way to becoming the person we seek to be.

Effective teachers have the courage to create tension. And adult learners on their way to levelling up actively seek out this tension, because it works. It pushes us over the chasm to the other side.

I’ve been running the altMBA for nearly two years, and in that time we’ve seen tens of thousands of people consider the workshop. Some of them see the tension coming and eagerly dive in. Others mistake that tension for fear and back away, promising themselves that they’ll sign up later.

The ones who leapt are transformed. The tension pays off.

We’re proud of the tension. We built it into the workshop from the start, because education is never about access to information, it’s about the forward motion of learning.

You already know this workshop works. That’s easy to check out. The hesitation comes from this very fact… that it works. That a change occurs. That the unknown is right over there, and to get yourself there, you have to walk through a month’s worth of tension.

That’s the best way I know to learn. And so that’s the way we teach.

 

PS there are only two more sessions of the altMBA this year. Embrace the tension and apply in time for tomorrow’s early priority deadline.