Teaching Smart People How to Learn

It’s so crazy to think that some of the most successful business people in the world have difficulty learning but it goes to show that there is a huge difference between learning book material and learning from real world situations. I think the main problem is that they do so well in school that they don’t know who to handle failures once they leave the classroom. But there is such a tremendous difference between a controlled classroom environment and one in the workplace where you have no idea what each day will bring. So in these types of situations it doesn’t really matter how smart you are, it matters how you act in difficult situations and whether or not you can stay composed and calm. Another reason some individuals have a problem learning is because they think they already have all the necessary knowledge and don’t realize that times change and there is always room for improvement. New theories and ideas come about everyday so it is very important to continuously learn and expand your knowledge.

In the article author Chris Argyris states that many people feel like they are learning if they solve problems, but don’t realize that they aren’t really learning until they can step back, take a look at their actions and change what they are doing. Once someone can actually see the way they act compared to the way they think they act then they can start moving forward. Being able to recognize and admit your downfalls is the first step to improving and becoming more successful, which allows you to also be less defensive when confronted with difficult situations. I really liked what Argyris said about executives getting defensive because they feel guilty when they aren’t perfect, because they are paid so much and are looked up to by so many people so they feel they can’t make mistakes. But I believe that the only way to really learn is by making mistakes and being able to understand why you made the mistake and then not make it again.

The only way people will ever be comfortable enough to admit to mistakes and refrain from blaming others is if the people leading them are willing to do the same. It’s amazing to see the impact it has when a member of top management owns up to something rather than blaming someone beneath them; it has a snowball effect and soon everyone around them believes that it’s ok to take the blame for something they did and they can learn what they could have done differently. It won’t ever be easy to take total blame for a wrongdoing, but in the end it will be well worth it because it will make for a more open and fair work environment.

Published in: on August 30, 2009 at 3:56 PM  Leave a Comment  

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