When you study the best-of-the-best, they share a common trait across industries, age, geography, gender, and skill set. Top performers are lifetime learners. Instead of hanging up their studies upon completion of formal education, they embrace a love of learning for the long run. They devour books, lectures, and workshops to improve their game.
This isn’t a groundbreaking concept. “Duh,” you may proclaim. “Earners are Learners. I get it. I’ve heard that a thousand times.”
But here’s the twist… While you may have a plan for ongoing learning, have you ever plotted out what you want to unlearn?
Ongoing learning is a powerful practice, but only when accompanied by a game plan for unlearning. Many great companies and leaders have fallen by clinging to previously held beliefs, approaches, and strategies. In other words, once they learned something they expected that insight remain relevant and impactful forever. Institutional learning is especially dangerous, since concepts can easily outlive their shelf life.
In many organizations, people love to share best practices. By definition, these are tools and techniques that yielded a strong result in the past. But to assume they have the same staying power as a Newtonian law can lead to crushing setbacks. Instead of sharing best practices, it’s time to consider next practices. Learn from the past, but also have the courage to unlearn in order to keep up with our rapidly changing world.
The same applies with your leadership approach. The command-and-control, fear-based style that worked 15 years ago no longer carries the day. From the simple things such as the manner in which you run your Monday morning meetings, to larger issues such as attracting and retaining top talent, you may need to unlearn a thing or two in order to move forward.
We know that you can teach old dogs new tricks. The question for you – are you equally willing to unlearn? Challenge your previously held assumptions and establish an unlearning list to accompany your learning objectives. Embrace both learning and unlearning, and you’ll quickly leap to the head of the class.