Thursday, February 4, 2010

Un-cool, Un-cola, Un-learning...

Let me say up front, "I like to learn." Whether it be reading, talking to other people, or auditing college classes... learning ignites something in me.

One aspect of learning that gets little attention or recognition is the value of un-learning. For example, we all bring certain presuppositions to the table based on our previous experiences and lessons. That’s called life. And those very experiences and lessons influence our perception of the present and future. That’s good... but also a bit dangerous.

As the writer Anais Nin says, "We don’t see things as they are. We see things as we are." That's a big difference.

To see things as they really are and not how we perceive them to be takes a strong self-awareness, for both organizations and individuals. It’s why change is often so difficult. Our experiences and life lessons are so embedded within us that sometimes we can’t see the need for, or necessity of, change.

We have to be willing to un-learn what we’ve learned. That’s not to suggest that what we've learned is necessarily wrong. However, the value of un-learning is that it keeps what we have learned fresh and dynamic. And yes, there are times when we discover that our perceptions and assumptions are wrong, or out-dated. Either way, learning how to un-learn is a valuable tool.

Which brings us to this question: "How do you un-learn?”