Personal Best Academy

Personal Best Academy is focused on the improvement of human performance. Spelling is one aspect of performance that we deal with because the way words are spelled in English can present problems for people of all ages.

We have developed a fresh approach to improving learning and transfer of learning; eradicating bad or unsafe habits; accelerating transition and conversion training; and correcting technique faults, misconceptions and other persistent errors.

We maintain that the main reason why motivated people have difficulty changing their skilled performance, behaviour, thoughts and beliefs is because they are the prisoners of habit.

Emerging research in cognitive psychology indicates that learned habit patterns influence and direct what we think and do every day of our lives. This includes our performance in sport or at work, our conceptual framework including any misconceptions; our ability to learn; how we interact with others; and the thoughts and beliefs that guide our daily lives. All these learned behaviours, whether right or wrong, safe or unsafe, suitable or unsuitable, effective or ineffective, well adjusted or maladjusted, are under the powerful influence of habit forces.

Habit patterns automatically develop during practice, i.e, repeated conscious recall of a thought, word or deed. Practicing recall soon lays down neural networks in the brain that, when the same situation arises next time, are triggered automatically so that we can respond instinctively and appropriately, doing exactly what we learned or trained to do. The brain is built to work this way; to easily and automatically develop habit patterns.

Habit patterns are useful because they require less mental energy than conscious thought. The brain finds it more efficient to work this way. Good habits, developed from conscious practice and effort, help us function better during our daily lives.

As long as those good habits are suitable reactions to what we encounter, they remain beneficial. But when circumstances change and a different response is required to a familiar situation, that habit we have developed can be a real handicap.

As we all know from bitter experience, habit patterns are notoriously hard to change. Anyone who tries to change their established routines soon comes up against a powerful mental resistance which interferes, slows down, and sometimes even disables the desired change and improvement in performance and behaviour. The better someone has practiced, learned and therefore habituated the thought, performance or behaviour; the harder it is to change.

Currently available coaching, teaching, training and therapeutic methods can be very effective when dealing with a blank slate, i.e., when the person has no prior experience or preconceptions that might get in the way of correct performance. However, coaching, teaching, training and therapeutic methods find it very difficult to deal with maladaptive habit patterns.

Eventually, after much time and effort, change does come and the person improves but there is a typically extended period of adaptation during which coaching, teaching, training and therapeutic efforts have to be re-applied. This problem is known as the transfer of learning/training/therapy problem.

The adaptation period to change and the associated transfer problems make coaching, teaching, training and therapy less time- and cost-effective. There has to be a better way.

Personal Best Academy™ uses and teaches Old Way/New Way® to help free people from the chains of habit and empower them to achieve their personal best.

From the description below, we can see that Old Way/New Way® is a powerful, cost- and time-effective yet very user friendly learning method that can change habit patterns quickly and permanently. Old Way/New Way® greatly reduces the typically extended and often risky adaptation period during which people try to adjust to change.

Since its inception in 1986, Personal Best Academy™ has provided training courses in Old Way/New Way® Learning to individuals, groups, organisations and corporations striving to achieve their personal best.

Recipients of Old Way/New Way® training include Olympic athletes and coaches; players and coaches of elite and recreational sports; pilots and flight instructors; drivers and driving instructors; firearms trainees and instructors; police departments; mining machinery operators and instructors; workplace operators and supervisors; employees and managers; musicians and music teachers; dancers and teachers of dance; school, college and university students and teachers; and children and parents.

The Academy offers training modules which are delivered as interactive self-paced online courses, or face-to-face training workshops for small groups.

Personal Best Academy™ operates from Brisbane, Australia. Our customers are mostly from English speaking countries but include individuals, groups and organisations from many other nations across the globe.

Old Way/New Way® Learning

Old Way/New Way® relies on well known learning principles. It is officially endorsed and gazetted by the South Australian Department of Education as a recognised and approved learning method (The Education Gazette, 1983, Vol. 11, No. 11, week ending 29 April, p. 289. Department of Education, South Australia.)

Basically, Old Way/New Way® Learning is a special way of practicing that greatly reduces the mental interference from established habit patterns and consequently accelerates learning and improves performance.

Old Way/New Way® is a novel synthesis and interpretation of existing and newly emerging cognitive science concepts and principles, including automaticity in behaviour (Bargh & Chartrand, 1999); learned errors (Reason, 1990); the influence of prior learning (Ausubel, 1968); metacognition (Flavell, 1987); and proactive inhibition and accelerated forgetting (Underwood, 1957; 1966).

Developed by Dr Harry Lyndon in the 1970's and later trademarked, Old Way/New Way® consists of a protocol or set of instructions. Much more than just a remedial method, this protocol accelerates cognitive and behavioural change within individuals, greatly reduces the typically prolonged adaptation period to the adoption of change and consequently improves learning transfer.

Experienced Old Way/New Way® practitioners have adapted the original Old Way/New Way® protocol to a wide variety of learning and training situations, environments and individuals.

Why is Old Way/New Way® necessary? What's wrong with currently available methods of teaching, training, coaching and behaviour change?

Current teaching, training, coaching and behaviour change methods can be quite effective when learning something new but are much less effective when changing something that is already established. Examples are an established work routine that is unsafe or has become inefficient; changing your faulty golf swing; or having to undergo type conversion training to change to a new aircraft. In such change situations Old Way/New Way® comes into its own and gets better results than other learning, training, coaching and behaviour change methods.

Whenever we want or have to change our beliefs, understanding and performance this presents special learning and training problems because old habits of thought and deed die hard. As an old flight instructor once said,

"The problem is not learning the new, it's forgetting [unlearning] the old."

Conventional learning, training and behaviour change methods typically come up against force of habit. This conflict between the old and the new produces a typically extended adaptation period. Even highly skilled and motivated people who diligently practice their new way despair when they find themselves repeatedly falling back to old ways and they struggle to adapt.

During this adaptation period, their performance slows, concentration demands rise, errors increase, risk exposure increases and frustration levels rise. These are all signs of a brain in conflict; an all too familiar but completely unnecessary conflict.

Read an in-depth discussion of the adaptation period in response to change; its effects on transfer of learning and training; and what kind of practice does make perfect.

Old Way/New Way® bypasses the brain mechanisms that preserve old learning and that make old habits die hard. This learning method greatly accelerates change and improvement.

So, conventional learning, training and behaviour change methods should be used when learning something new and unfamiliar. Old Way/New Way® should be used when changing over to something that conflicts, or is likely to conflict, with what we already know and do, as in the correction of errors (technique/skill correction, poor or unsafe work habits, misconconceptions, behaviour change) and in conversion/transition training.

Does it work?

Published research, workplace trials and case studies over the last thirty years indicate that an individual who undergoes Old Way/New Way® training when trying to learn something new or change something already established, is able to make the change change after one or two brief learning sessions, provided that the problem was correctly diagnosed prior to the intervention and he or she follows the prescribed post-intervention self-correction routine.

Typically, after one successful correction session with Old Way/New Way®, an individual, group or team has an 80% or higher probability of performing in the new way; a 20% or lower probability of still performing in the old way; and a 90% probability of self-detecting an old way if and when it occurs and then self-correcting it.

The success of this change method and subsequent performance improvement or behaviour change depend very much on a correct diagnosis or identification of the "old" and "new" ways, i.e., what is the person doing now that has to change and what should they be doing instead?

Although the Old Way/New Way® protocol itself is not complicated to administer or follow, what comes before the intervention (i.e., the identification of the old and new ways) and what comes after (i.e., self-correction and follow-up) both require experience and expert knowledge of the change area concerned.

An example of habit pattern error correction. Correcting poor technique in the javelin throw requires expert input from both the athlete and his or her experienced coach. Athlete and coach have to identify exactly what things are wrong with the athlete's technique. They then have to identify the optimal technique for that particular athlete at his or her stage of development. These preliminary tasks precede the application of the change protocol and require sufficient knowledge and time.

Although the athlete will be enabled by the Old Way/New Way® protocol to change over to the "new" way, failure to correctly identify the "old" and "new" ways can compromise the entire change session and result in no improvement or, even worse, a drop in performance as measured by accuracy and length of the throw.

Another example, this time of transition training. An experienced aircraft pilot has to transition from an aircraft with analogue instrumentation to one with digital instrumentation. This is known as glass cockpit transition training.

Both examples illustrate the two situations where Old Way/New Way® can produce rapid and permanent change, namely when correcting established, habitual errors (habit pattern errors) and when changing over to a "new" way where

The "error" can be a performance error or misconception. These two are typically related because many performance errors start with a "wrong" idea or a faulty or incomplete mental model. In some situations, correcting the misconception is enough to also correct the associated performance error. In other situations, both the performance or action and its underlying wrong idea have to be corrected. This again illustrates the wide usefulness of Old Way/New Way® but also explains why practitioners need to be experienced interventionists and be mindful of all the possible complications. There are many traps for young players.

Old Way/New Way® is not only effective but also a flexible change tool because it can be used with individuals, groups or teams. There are important differences in the protocols when working with more than one individual at a time but the results are the same.

Another useful feature of Old Way/New Way® is that change and improvement can be achieved incrementally. Sometimes, an individual or group cannot make a big change all at once. For example, a young athlete may not have the physical capability or lack the readiness to adopt the "ideal" technique for his or her sport, so smaller, incremental improvements in technique can be made sequentially over several Old Way/New Way® sessions.

All this makes Old Way/New Way® a very useful and effective tool for change in all areas of human performance and behaviour.

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