Dealing with resistance

In last week's blog post, I wrote about the point that occurs about module 3 and 4 of many online courses, where the learner needs to start to actually apply the new material being taught.

At that point in the course, far too often, learners find actually applying the teaching too difficult, and just drop off.

They stop paying attention, stop doing the work, and vanish into cyberspace. 

How can you keep that from happening in YOUR online course?

You can't, totally, prevent that, because adult learners who are not facing requirements set by a job or academic program are free to do as they want.

But you can expect, and prepare for, learner resistance to  moving forward into the deeper layers of your course, and build as many touch points as possible into the course design itself, to counteract that resistance.

illustration showing a pencil with a fist growing out of the top of it, and lightning flashes coming out of the sides. The words "Strong Design" appear under the pencil/fist."

The most important thing to consider in supporting your course participants to power through the natural resistance we all feel to really learning anything new, is to 

build GUIDED PRACTICE into the design of every lesson.

It's far too easy to inadvertently skip this step... to go right from presenting the information you're teaching, to expecting learners to be able to do it for themselves. 

But before they can do it for themselves, they need you to not only TELL them what to do, 

but also


People untangling a ball of yarn together

How do you build guided practice into an online lesson? This is such a complex and important topic that I'll devote a whole blog post to it at a later time. Meanwhile, you can read about how to provide guided practice in my book (it's on pages 189-192).

The point I want to focus on now is that providing guided practice every step of the way helps overcome the resistance to moving forward into the deeper layers of learning, that is a natural part of learning anything new.

 It's harder to provide guided practice online than in person, but it's not impossible. The important thing is to remember to do it, every step of the way.

How else can you help your course participants power on past the "dip" that occurs around module 3 or 4 of an online course?

  • Increase social presence

  • increase engagement

  • increase motivation

Increase social presence

The more your learners can feel that you are THERE WITH THEM, helping them overcome learning challenges, the more supported they will feel in sticking it out through the hard parts.

Whether this means including live coaching, responding to learner emails, or building "evergreen" factors into the course that make learners feel you are there with them, it's important to think about how you will accomplish this.

Young man teaching eldery man of usage of computer. Intergeneration

At the Learn and Get Smarter community meeting on August 22nd, 2020, we talked about another type of resistance some of us have encountered as well: resistance to innovative ideas that we may want to share with colleagues and peers.

While there is plenty of lip service being paid about how innovation and disruption are good things, in actual practice, people don't always appreciate innovations that disrupt their lives.  

If you, like many in the Learn and Get Smarter community, are a highly creative thought leader and change agent, how do you deal with resistance as you bring new ideas, new products, and new services into the world?

Part of the work of being a change agent, is being aware of and accounting for the resistance to change. It would be wonderful if everyone appreciated the changes we are working so hard to bring into the world, rushed to buy our products and services, and supported what we are doing in every way.

But the nature of change is that it is hard, and is often not welcomed or appreciated at first. And if we are the ones bringing the change, some of that resistance is going to be directed at us.

All truth passes through three stages. 

First, it is ridiculed.

Second, it is violently opposed.

Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.

--Arthur Schopenhauer

If this resonates with you, remember to believe in yourself and what you are here to do. Your mission, vision, and service are important. You have something to offer that will help people grow and will make the world a better place.

 Growth and change are hard, and we all tend to resist them, even when we WANT to grow and change.

 I've written a  blog post about the role of resistance in the implementation of effective change, on my "Ask Mother Rebecca" blog. If you'd like to delve deeper into the role of resistance in growth and change, you may find this interesting. 


I was lucky enough to learn a fascinating principle from Dave Lakhaniat a business mastermind I attended recently.

He said that in order for your ideas to have the impact necessary for your  business to be effective, you must be POLARIZING. 

Meaning that while some people are  going to love and appreciate what you are offering, others will not.

You can't please everyone, and must specifically attract those you are meant to serve while causing those who are not a fit for your message, to be pushed away.

If, like me, you  want to be able to serve everyone and be all things to all people, this message can be hard to hear.

But it's important to pay attention to it.

It fits with the business guidance we receive to remember to "niche down"... get focused and specific on the EXACT target audience you want to attract, and focus on meeting their needs with your products and services.

Bringing the focus back to designing our online courses in ways that help learners overcome the challenges and obstacles that arise whenever one sets out to learn anything new, we can be reminded that while not everyone is going to choose to persist past those obstacles, some will.

We need to be here and show up for those of our course participants, clients, and customers who ARE willing to do the hard work of overcoming resistance so they can learn and grow. Those are the people we are here to serve, and it's an honor and a pleasure to do so.

How are YOU overcoming resistance to change in yourself and others, as you set up your business and create your course(s)? 

Come talk about it at the Learn and Get Smarter community meeting on Saturday, August 29th, or  in the Facebook group!

Come to the community meeting


9 AM Pacific/ 12 Noon Eastern

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