The Needed Struggle of Learning

Randeep Hooda Quote: “I’ve had my share of struggle. I believe, never take success to your head or failure to your heart.”

I am currently recording some podcast episodes that I am planning to release in January 2020.  Honestly, I am frustrated with the process.  My mic sounds terrible and doesn’t have that silky smooth radio voice sound that I was hoping.  I tried a new mic, and although it seems better than what I had, the mic tends to pick up ALL OF MY WEIRD BREATHING NOISES that I didn’t even know I made.

I have spent a ton of time asking people what they use, googling everything about uploading to iTunes, sound quality, etc.  Last night, I couldn’t sleep and was dreaming about podcasts and woke up in the middle of the night to Google an issue I had to see if I could fix it.  When my 3-year-old daughter Kallea is learning a new skill (walking, talking), she has a hard time sleeping. I get it now!

Here is a snippet from my first podcast that I posted on Instagram:


View this post on Instagram


In short, I share my thoughts on how “traditional” practice is not necessarily “bad” practice. But in long form, I wanted to share this with you… So I have been working on a new podcast. The goal is to post once a week (Sunday night) and just share a 10-15 minute episode just discussing my thoughts on education, life, and leadership. I plan to start releasing full episodes in January but I have been recording some right now to just go through the process. I will tell you that it has been a humbling experience. I feel I have no idea what I am doing and in this clip, I say “you know” a ton. But I am sharing that because the struggle that I am feeling with this project is the point. I am trying to get out of my comfort zone and do something a bit different. It is not great now, but I know if I stick with it, it will get better. More on this process in my blog post tomorrow but I just wanted to share this snippet. #teachers #teachersfollowteachers #leadership #podcast #learningasIgo #innovatorsmindset #InnovateinsideTheBox

A post shared by George Couros (@gcouros) on


I noticed that I say “you know” about 372 times, which now has given me another complex.  I don’t like the sound quality.  I am not sure what I am even is saying is of any value.

So many feelings.

So why am I sharing this?  Because when we talk about modeling our learning, that means highlighting not only the new stuff that is easy but also the part in which we struggle.  That stuff that makes us furious and makes us question if we should quit or not.  This is too often left out of the story.

David Truss shared in his daily blog how the need for perfectionism can be debilitating to students:

At school, I watch perfectionism crush students. It completely overwhelms and debilitates them. It’s sad to see highly capable students buried under the weight of something not being good enough to hand in, when while it may not be their best work it actually is good enough. Last year I was actually challenging a student to hand in some mediocre work. “What’s the minimum you need to do to hand that in?”

Don’t get me wrong, there are times when I push for students to do more, and to give their best, but for some students the bar of excellence they place on their own work is so high, they are continuously challenged to attain their own high standards. And when that bar is placed on everything they do, that becomes an impossible task.

Let’s not kid ourselves.  The challenge of perfectionism holds the adults back as well. That is okay if it makes you nervous, but it is detrimental when it completely stops you from moving forward.

Here is what I am reminding myself about this process:

  1. It is good to struggle because it is pushing me out of my comfort zone.
  2. Modeling that struggle might be helpful to someone else who is going through the same thing or something similar.
  3. If I stick with what I am learning now, it will get better over time.

Highlighting the needed struggle of learning is essential to the growth of ourselves and those we serve. If we only share when things are simple, it creates an illusion that we have arrived at the top of the mountain without having the willingness to take the uncomfortable steps and experience the falls along the way.

Source: George Couros