We’re Built to Learn

My granddaughter loves to learn – how to climb up stairs, how to pet a cat, etc. I like to learn as well (except for the more abstruse features of my smart phone). Humans are naturally curious – that makes us learning machines. So what can you learn today?

I invested in learning for 2 hours yesterday at a Fundamentals of Organization Development course, jointly created by Cascade Employers’ Association and Oregon Organization Development Network. This was the 2nd of 6 sessions. I’d invite you to join us, but the room is full. (I hope you’ll sign up next year.) Yesterday’s topic was strategic planning. Now, I’ve led strategic planning with clients and taught it at the graduate level, so one might suggest I don’t need to sit in on a 2 hour workshop on strategic planning. If I knew everything there is to know, I would agree with that statement. But I attended for 2 reasons:

1. To refresh myself on the concepts that I already know (even great sports stars use coaches to continue to improve), and

2. To learn concepts that I didn’t know.

I did learn a couple nuggets. I also reinforced a couple key concepts, including “letting go”, which will be the topic of another blog.

I have recently learned that learning is easiest for the very young, because they don’t have any preconceived ideas about what is. They are a blank slate. As we learn, we create our mental map of how society and our organizations and our families operate. This is invaluable – we could not function without it! However, once we have that map in place, learning something new requires letting go of something we have already learned, something we think is “true”. Thus, the longer we continue through life, the more difficult learning becomes, because we have more to unlearn.

So what can you learn today? And what are you willing to unlearn, so you can learn something new?

Gary Langenwalter


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