We move through life, accumulating knowledge – adding ‘books’ to the ‘shelves’ in our mind, possibly thinking that this ‘one way trip’ continues unabated. However, so many ‘facts’ that we learn, need updating as new breakthroughs occur. The scientific method, innovation, continuous improvement, and other methods of learning and moving forward, all rely upon a growth mindset – one that has neural plasticity and is capable of flexing and learning new things.
Sometimes though, to learn new things requires us to unlearn – to let go of information that we held as ‘truth’. This is the toughest learning of all.
Why? Is it because we have to swallow our pride, or reflect on a chapter of our life in which a ‘truth’ was not correct?
1. Don’t hold too tightly to any ‘truth’
2. Be proud of your flexibility of mind – your ability to unlearn and relearn
3. Seek new learning
4. Look forward – not back – you can’t change the past, but you can determine your future based upon new learning
5. Learn from your children, your staff – as they will admire and respect you more for your youthful flexibility and being open to new learning…and you compliment them greatly, by elevating them to be your teacher.
Today’s thriving accelerated world requires adopting a learner’s mindset – embracing the natural discomfort that comes from letting go the old and mastering the new.
The concept of unlearning and relearning has never been more relevant. As the futurist Alvin Toffler wrote: “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.”
“What got you here won’t get you there.” This book title by Marshall Goldsmith speaks to the deep need to continually upgrade the assumptions underpinning the mental maps in our heads.
As Jim Collins, author of Good to Great wrote, “The most important lessons lay not in what I needed to learn, but in what I first needed to unlearn.”
Only be continually challenging your own best thinking – inviting others to play devil’s advocate on your assumptions and interrogate your thinking- can you do the requisite unlearning and relearning to make smarter decisions as you navigate unchartered ground ahead.
Assumptions kill possibilities. Do you need to…
· Unlearn how you approach growth opportunities?
· Unlearn how you communicate to employees or about your brand?
· Unlearn your target market is, what they want and value?
· Unlearn the skills you think are sufficient to take you to the next level?
We came into the world brimming with curiosity and open to learning. In today’s world, learning isn’t an exercise we finish in school. It’s an imperative for flourishing in life. It’s how we improve ourselves, expand future possibilities and improve the status quo.
The key to unlearning doesn’t lie in the teacher. It lies in the student. In you. In your openness to being challenged – to letting go what you think you know so you can relearn what you need to know.
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