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Being the Learner. Not the Knower

Do you have a learner mindset? Many don't understand what that means, because we are busy doing perfection. Being right for horses, all of the time.


If you are a learner, you expect to get it wrong.

Because you're learning, you expect to make mistakes.


In short, being a learner, having a learner mindset is showing up with humility.

It means you're going to learn something, which means when you make that mistake, you know you're going to make, because you're learning something new, that you're also going to get back up and circle back to explore the details you missed. How do I learn more to get better? How do I get better at getting 'out of the road' for my horse, become the owner my horse would choose?


That's the Learner Mindset. Owning you're going to get it wrong.


Otherwise you're not learning anything.


Get back up, if you've fallen.


Keep showing up as the learner, not the knower.


The learner mindset is curiosity, the expectation you're going to make mistakes and get it wrong. Its the humility in knowing you're going to to get it wrong, and then it is that.


"Im going to do what I need to do to learn, to start getting it right for my horse. Because I want to learn. I want to get better."


Why is humility important to the learner mindset? Being able to be quiet, able to listen and seeing people in their perspectives that are different.


Even when we are giving feedback as coach's, in the coaching mindset (teaching somebody), I don't just want my riders to get the information. I want them to be able to get the learning. Because Im always learning giving my clients their feedback


In that moment of giving and receiving feedback, the coach is in the learning mindset, learning.


How do you land on others?


Instead of saying "this was wrong and this is..." even if you're in a great tone, the learner mindset is coming in thinking about and learning how my feedback lands on others.


Good coaches are as curious as good students.

When you coach, you're learning. Instructing a rider what to do is different. Coaching creates learning. For the coach.


Questions I ask my riders:

  1. Why did you choose this training method?

  2. What are you trying to accomplish?

  3. What is your mindset around this?

  4. What was the win of using this method?

I love coaches are always learning. When we take the time to coach (not instruct) on how to train desirable behaviours.


I have committed myself to serving horses by coaching horse lovers to train horses. I do this in a community I built for lifelong learners - Espresso With Equicoach.


Creating Lifelong Learners


How? Build psychologically safe spaces. How do you know if you have a psychologically safe space to be yourself, so others can be more theirselves? Non-Judgement. Can you express doubt and curiosity without putting your coach on the defensive? Creating psychological safety is easier said than done.


Taking ourselves too seriously


When we share our humility, don't take ourselves too seriously, have the courage and humility to read out funny or even harsh comments about ourselves, into our communities, research shows learners become more comfortable sharing their mistakes after seeing the coach make it safe first.

It's ok to be flawed. Or if you prefer, perfectly imperfect. Perfectionism murders psychological safety.


According to Adam Grant, author of Think Again (2021) "It takes confident humility to admit that we are a work in progress. It shows we care more about improving ourselves than proving ourselves."


A learner mindset alone is not enough to give equestrians the freedom and courage to speak up for horse welfare. According to Grant (2021) although psychological safety erases the fear of challenging authority, it doesn't necessary motivate us to question authority in the first place. To cultivate a learning culture that places horse welfare at the centre of horse sports, we need to embrace accountability. Being accountable leads people to thinking again previous 'best practices' in management and horse training traditions.


Research shows when psychological safety is combined with accountability we create a learning zone.

Psychological safety without accountability = comfort zone. Accountability without psychological safety = anxiety zone.


Come and join a psychologically safe community:


Coffee With Horse Lovers


Enjoy a unique space to doubt and be curious about training methods, where members celebrate learning and progress:


Espresso With Equicoach


Enjoy safe spaces and meet diverse horse lovers (lecturers, coaches, vets, riders and horse lovers) living into the learner mindset, committed to getting it right for their horses, not being right.


Lisa x




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