The future is in how fast you are at unlearning. Dave’s PDF on the Lifecycle of Rules got me thinking more about this. Yes, we’re under pressure to learn more and to learn quickly, but the future goes to those who can unlearn faster than the rest, because you can’t always learn something new until you first let go of something else. And learning to let go of rules is one of the first things we (and our managers) have to learn to be quicker at.
Sometimes that means letting go of something that served you well for a long time. And that’s the toughest thing.
Bert’s an amazingly good Go player (a 3-dan for those who care), and he’s been telling me for a long time that those who progress the most in that game are those who are most willing to leave behind the strategies and tactics they’ve come to rely on at each previous level… that it’s a constant cycle of learning and unlearning.
The Parelli natural horsemanship program I’m studying makes you start from square one, even if you’ve been working with horses for 20 years. You have to spend your first couple months of riding actually sitting on the horses back, with nothing but a halter and lead rope (no bridle), letting the horse go wherever he wants. Those 40 hours are what it takes to get someone to UNlearn the habits most of us were taught to use with a horse including pulling on the reins to stop, and more importantly–to unlearn the need to be in control.
But nowhere is this need to unlearn more important than in today’s work world. We all know how hard it can be to let go of old rules, but now we have to be willing to cut them off more quickly than ever. Think of all the things you might have to unlearn, even in the course of a year:
* Unlearn what your target market is (because it just changed).
* Unlearn the way you advertise and market (because your market just got a lot smarter).
* Unlearn the way you approach your brand (because it’s no longer within your control).
* Unlearn the way you teach (because learners need to unlearn and learn simultaneously)
* Unlearn the way you treat your employees (because before you know it, that “meets expectations” review might come back to haunt you on a blog ; )
* Unlearn the technology you use (self-explanatory… we’re all living this one)
* Unlearn the methodology you use
* Unlearn the designs you use
* Unlearn the words you use to describe your business
And on it goes.
John Seely Brown (I’m a big fan) has a lot to say about this here.
Forget learning to learn… learn to unlearn. Ask yourself:
“What is not serving me that I need to unlearn…?”
Article from Creating Passionate Users