I am approached by two kinds of people, those who are committed to learn and those who are not. Of course, it is never that simple or obvious. Almost everyone says they are committed to learn. The truth reveals itself when they have to do the work. Learning a concept is one thing, it is entirely another to practice and change behavior.
How does the lack of commitment show up?
The lack of commitment usually shows up in one of two ways. Cancellation of a coaching meeting because of a conflict or lack of practice between sessions. This happens from time to time for everyone. It is a problem when it becomes a pattern. The underlying problem is usually the story that doing comes before learning. We get so busy doing, there isn’t time to learn or we are too tired. Our day to day motivation becomes survival. Getting everything done so we can switch off and relax.
Two role models
I have been lucky to have two roles in my corporate career who prioritized learning. The first one is Andy Bryant, now Chairman of Intel’s Board of Directors. I attended a series of one day leadership trainings with him. At the start he set an expectation to attend each session without an excuse. If something so urgent came up requiring us to miss a session, we had to discuss it with him first. Such an event occurred for me, I didn’t feel I could let my boss down and not support her in a critical business issue. Andy asked me if Intel’s external results would be materially affected. I say no and he asked me why wasn’t I going to attend. His point was simple, if you don’t make learning a priority, nobody else around you will.
The second role model is Andy Grove, former CEO and Chairman of Intel. Andy recognized the importance of learning and teaching others. While CEO he would teach the one day new employee orientation class. He recognized the importance of teaching Intel’s culture. In his classic management book, ‘High Output Management’, he highlights teaching those around you is a leader’s responsibility. When you teach others, you leverage your own skills and generate better results for the organization. You have to be willing to invest in learning first.
Both Andy’s recognized the importance of investing in ourselves and others to increase our capability and deliver improved results. They also got a lot of things done. They found the right balance.
Are you finding the right balance between doing and learning?
When I was 19 I made a bad work mistake. I wanted to miss college the day after to put it right. Richard the Project Director told me to go to college “your education is the most important thing”. That was 40 years ago and a life lesson for me. And I am still going to college. Next week I am on a two day course in Dublin. Next year I am starting another diploma. Learning is exciting. Oh, and I have continued to make mistakes, that’s part of experimenting and learning.
Thanks for the example Dave. And yes, making mistakes is a key part of the learning process. That was a whole different area of learning for me.
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