BUSINESS | Fighting the enemies of learning | Breaking news

I have spent most of my adult life teaching and coaching people so they can live better lives. If asked, most of my clients and students could tell you something they learned from me that helped them. I often meet people who are desperate to improve their lives but are unaware of what is holding them back.

I find it interesting to watch how business leaders respond to the challenges of our current economic environment. The best successes I have seen are those leaders who respond to change by going into learning mode. New challenges can threaten success or help us be more open to new opportunities. Either way, an openness to learning increases the likelihood of success.

We all have the potential to be smarter than we are. Anything that interferes with learning is an enemy of learning. Here are some enemies of learning that I see often. Becoming aware of this can improve your ability to learn. Solving your enemies of learning will allow you to gain knowledge and use your intelligence more effectively. Learning opens up the possibility of taking new or different actions.

More than eighteen enemies of learning identified. I’m going to cover a few here.

The inability to know or admit we don’t know – When we don’t know what we don’t know, we become blind to possibility. Because our culture values ​​knowing, people are embarrassed to admit they don’t know something. To paraphrase Julio Olalla, a developer of ontological coaching, “to be a child is to live in awe of the discovery of domains of possibility whose existence we were not even able to anticipate.” Curiosity and wonder are powerful emotions to access when we want or need to learn. Learning begins when the student says, “I don’t understand.” For many of us our school years were not pleasant. We must avoid associating not knowing with negative experiences we have had during our formal education.

Not Prioritizing Learning: When it comes to learning, people often say, and more often than not think, “I don’t have time.” The world moves at a fast pace. If you don’t have time to learn, do you think you have time not to learn? Until learning is a priority, we cannot prepare for the changing world in which we live. Promise yourself that you will spend as much time learning as you do entertaining. If you spend thirty minutes on Facebook or TikTok, spend thirty minutes on an educational podcast or take a class on Udemy or Coursera. Surely learning something valuable is as important as watching cat videos.

The inability to unlearn – When we realize something, we tend to be complacent, even arrogant. We feel confident in what we know, but knowledge often has an expiration date. My first computer was a computer. It was fine for me, but I had friends who were thrilled with the MAC. I bought a MAC computer for a project I was working on because I thought it would make graphics easier. I found that my computer knowledge made learning to use the MAC even more difficult. About two weeks later, I sold the MAC and bought a PC so I could finish the project on time. If I had been able to spend time in the beginner’s mind, not trying to use the MAC the same way I used the PC, I probably could have made it work. There are many similar situations where knowledge in one area does not translate to another. In fact, for many of them, knowledge in one area can make it difficult to learn another. Two examples are the gas grill versus the charcoal grill or the iPhone versus Android. Most of us have a preference for one over the other not because it is clearly better, but because of our own familiarity.

Ignoring the emotional dimension of learning – To learn, we need to create the right emotional context of respect and care. Learning takes courage and confidence. We must be open to the new, question what we already know and think we know. We must not ignore that learning is an emotional activity. If we do, we fail to create an environment conducive to learning.

Not giving permission to others to teach us -¬ This is one of the most common enemies of learning. Knowledge in the world is vast, and we all have different levels of knowledge on various topics. A master chef can prepare a delicious meal, but he may not know anything about computers. A Harvard MBA graduate won’t be able to catch fish in the gulf like a man who lives in Grand Isle and has never heard of Harvard. We may think we are “smarter” than someone, but that doesn’t mean they can’t teach us something.

I remember once I was in a program, and our graduation would require us to do some elements of a ropes course. I knew that one of the elements of the challenge involved a twenty-five foot telephone pole. At the top of the mast was a platform the size of a piece of typing paper. Our challenge was to climb the pole, throw ourselves onto the platform, stand up and jump, holding a trapeze. There was no danger of falling because a safety rope secured us. It wasn’t jumping that worried me; it was the fear that he could not climb on top of that pole. The weekend before the challenge, my not-yet-two-year-old son decided to climb a stool. As he watched, he rose until he was lying flat on his stomach on the stool. I watched him sway back and forth until first he put one leg under him, and then the other, and then he stood up. My son, who couldn’t even speak yet, taught me something I needed to learn. Even though we are smarter than a person, that doesn’t mean they can’t teach us things we don’t know. If we want to be wise, we will be open to learning the lessons that others can teach us.

Lack of trust – Since learning involves visiting the unknown, we can only succeed if we can trust the one who teaches us. This does not mean that we should blindly trust whoever teaches us. We must trust wisely. If you are the teacher, you must be intentional about cultivating trust and being trustworthy.

Our world is changing so rapidly that learning is necessary to stay relevant. Think about the things you’ve had to learn recently. Whether you are a business leader or a community leader, learning is a necessary part of your daily life. Several questions will help you identify the enemies of learning. Do you spend time learning or do you need to improve your ability to prioritize learning? Are you willing to look at things with new eyes, or does what you already know make learning difficult? Do you let others teach you or do you struggle to give them the authority to teach you? Are you able to create the right open emotional state for learning? If you’re still doing things the same way you were two years ago, you need to examine your enemies of learning. When you can learn, you can grow.

Cami Miller is a business coach and partners with leaders at all levels to develop strategies for success. Contact her at or text 225-432-0454

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