Unlearn and Relearn - A strategy for success.

Unlearn and relearn – A strategy for success

Lao Tzu said, “To attain knowledge, add things every day. To attain wisdom, remove things every day.” More recently, Peter Drucker put it another way, “We spend a lot of time teaching leaders what to do. We don’t spend enough time teaching leaders what to stop.”

Learning is not just about adding information and knowledge to our repertoire; it is also about unlearning the habits and beliefs that hold us back, and replacing them with habits and beliefs that help us to achieve the success we desire.

In his book, What Got You Here Won’t Get You There: How Successful People Become Even More Successful, Marshal Goldsmith argues that most of us delude ourselves about our achievements, our status and our contributions. These delusions give us a sense of self confidence that blind us to the risks and challenges in the workplace. They also hold us back from unlearning old habits which we mistakenly believe have contributed to our success. Our delusions become a serious liability during times of change.

How do you build the best unlearning and relearning strategy?

Determine what needs to be unlearned and what needs to replace it.
If you are going through a change, ask yourself what needs to be discarded from the old paradigm? What are you going to replace it with? If, for example, you are starting a new customer service experience, what do you need to keep from the old process? Clarify the requirements of the new one.

Explain the reasons for the change.
If people understand the reason they are being asked to make a change, they will be more prepared to drop old habits and methods. Give them solid reasons that will allay their fears.

Offer feedback.
Sometimes people are not aware of either what they are doing badly or what is holding them back from doing better. A 360-degree feedback is a tool that can provide great insights into detrimental behaviors.

Provide coaching support.
Old habits die hard. Many people can’t change without constant support. Provide coaching which helps individuals to get rid of old habits and adopt new ones. A coach can skillfully expose the way bad habits are causing problems for the individual, their colleagues and the organisation. She can highlight how small changes in behavior can achieve success. The coach will also hold coachees accountable and help them keep on track with their unlearning and relearning journey.

Start with yourself.
The trouble with many leaders is that they want their people to learn, change and improve, but don’t want to do any of this themselves. They assume self-improvement is only for subordinates.

Great leaders always start the learning process at their own level. Leading by example can be the best way to motivate others. Many successful CEOs discuss their learning challenges openly, which makes it hard for their followers to deny their own learning needs. As the leader, consider participating in the leadership building activities for your company.

"It is not hard to learn more. What is hard is to unlearn when you discover yourself wrong.” Martin H. Fisher

When the boss acts like an emperor, telling everyone else they need to improve, this behavior can be copied by management at all levels. Every level adopts the belief that those reporting to them are the ones who need to change. In the end no one changes.

Unlearn and Relearn