Learn or Die

Reevaluate how your company deals with learning and improve performance.

Leaders should not stop learning at all cost. It is one key to success that you should not take for granted. Sure, leaders tend to focus on business development, marketing strategies, and excellent management that picking up a book to gather new helpful information or reading articles about business updates can be too much.

But if there is one advantage continuous learning can contribute, it is the privilege to stay ahead of the competition.

When leaders pay attention to the importance of learning, the team can develop such habit, and the entire organization can benefit from it.

With a lot of competition willing to bend over backward just to get to the top of the food chain, your option is to either continuously learn or die. If your choice is never the latter, then let this article help you:

  • Learn how Toyota deals with mistakes contributed by its employees and benefit from it
  • Understand how a comfortable chair can increase your comfort in the process of learning
  • Develop quick thinking

System 1 thinking says keep the status quo. System 2 thinking says shake it up; we can do better.

We often use our judgments based on how we observe results in our environment-especially the ones proven to be effective. Dark clouds forming up in the sky can only mean that it is about to shower, mistakes can cause failure, and a small argument can turn into a huge fight.

We develop a kind of observation that allows us to interpret how the world goes depending on what we already know from the past. Continuous learning means updating what you know so you get to use new information in enhancing results.

The mode System 1 is all about the human learning machine requiring a lot of energy to perform the tasks correctly and often on autopilot. This mode can be a bit overwhelming as much as misleading. Thus, to understand better how competitions bury your marketing, you may want to consider switching to System 2.

Ideally, if employees can maximize their full potential through learning, System 1 would not be the most sought-after solution to marketing. Unlike with System 1, this more can promote a more human response when necessary. New options would arise, and more opportunities to avoid bias would be in place.

Don’t deny your emotions, as they’re necessary for thinking. Spock should not be your hero.

One way to achieve proper decision-making is to involve emotions throughout the process. Yes, this may sound a little unconventional, mainly when we were taught the opposite for the longest time. But did you know that the areas of our grey matter that are functioning for emotions and rational thinking are close together?

If you are thinking of being a Spock (the highly logical Star Trek character) and let your rational thinking always get in the way then you are misguided.

Often, you would hear people attributing success through their gut feeling. This idea is typical and usually regarded as 'luck' than a gut feeling doing all fortunate decision-making. But gut intuition is a combination of your mind, brain, and body communicating with each other to direct you towards the decision that your account does not acknowledge intently.

Charging everything to luck or going for the fight-or-flight instinct come from our negative emotions causing us to self-preserve from what could be hard work. But our positive thinking can lead us to a much desirable act of increasing our awareness and hunger for new learning. You would be surprised how a simple smile and positive-thinking can enhance your chance of opening yourself up to discoveries that are useful for your success.

Now, be careful on how much you let your fear dictate your emotions. Sure, it's entirely reasonable to experience anxiety over work tasks like public speaking or board of directors meetings. But if you let fear hinder you from growth, then you will regret it in the future. Develop a way to level your emotions in this kind of situations and you will be just fine.

Improve your organization’s learning curve by hiring the right people - internally motivated learners.

The primary goal of this article is to help you transform your team into an HPLO or High-Performance Learning Organization by applying what you have learned about how human mind affects our decision-making.

There three critical goals for your team to attain:

  • Involving the right people
  • Creating the right environment
  • Observing the proper process

If you can make your team develop a particular motivation to actual learning, then you are on the right track. It should not come as a forced requirement for each of them as it will lead to blind spots. It will be your job to motivate them to learn and be a collective HPLO team.

First, make sure that your team believes in themselves. It will be the hardest thing to do if you do not have confidence in your team in the first place. That way, they will have the self-efficacy knowing learning is not the worst task they could have but instead rewarding.

Intrinsic kind of motivation is what you should seek for your team to develop. Your team must feel the joy of learning and expand their skills to make them feel good.

While extrinsic is also a kind of motivation that can get your team to learn, it is not always a healthy option. It often develops egotistic manner and unwanted competition among your team members to gain your approval. Extrinsic learners do not handle failure well.

Employees need to feel safe to speak up and think creatively, so create a positive environment.

Working with the right people requires a good working environment-positive, nurturing, and cultivating their skills. As a leader, your job is to make sure that your people are working in a place where learning is welcomed and highly encouraged.

While some could view learning as a task too demanding of their time, your high example can turn them into confident learners. Be the role model that your team can look up to while being challenged with your success in the best way possible. Make sure that your squad overcomes the fear of any roadblocks, failure, or whatever inhibitors that can withdraw them from continuous learning.

Remember to be sensitive to the signs and tells that your team is suffering from roadblocks. Fear is never a good recipe for success. An excellent way to do this is by giving praises and approval to employees who take courage whether in speaking up or showing humility by admitting their failures. Thank them and appreciate their openness. This show of support can create an encouraging mindset to the rest of the team.

Never stir fear of admitting mistakes by forcing punishments or humiliation on your team. By doing so, you build a wall to their learning capabilities.

Great learning requires great communication. Turn on System 2 to be a present, active listener.

After you find the right people and creating an excellent learning environment for them, it is time to establish the proper process to follow.

The first thing to establish is adequate communication. Do not settle for a simple open forum, dull company chat box, or once-a-week meeting where your teammates would feel less likely to speak up. Instead, build effective communication. Be humane.

System 2 is a functional approach to establish communication. Impose openness and honesty when it comes to expressing ideas, suggestions, or feedback. When it comes to admitting their faults, your teammates must not feel judgments, but support. As a leader, this should come easy, as a person, it can be challenging. Yes, whether you care to admit, it can be quite challenging to forgive members of your team who affect your team performance. But never let this get in the way of your leadership.

If there is one skill you need to master when it comes to building proper communication with your people that is intensive listening. Not the scenarios wherein you look straight in the face, but you have negative thinking of emotions towards the person. Empathy usually works.

Do not impose being the smarter one just because you are the leader. Instead, apply humility when asking. You would be surprised how much you still do not know even with the most glamorous title in the room. It does not hurt to inquire knowledge from the talker as you listen. And this applies best in scenarios where investigations are necessary.

Pay attention as you require the same when it is your time to speak. And make sure to show interest and presence of mind throughout the process.

Consider different critical thinking strategies to find the optimal solution.

Critical analysis is crucial for learning. It can be beneficial to have a few essential tools of thinking to keep your problem-solving skills updates.

If you are well-aware of the recognition-primed decision model, you would know how this can help you compare your situations before-and-after style. By doing so, you can be aware of your progress and where you perform low. And the best part is that you not only learn from experience, but you get to use practical solutions that worked in the past.

For instance, a firefighter gets on a fire scene wherein she had no time to evaluate much because it is apparently time-pressured. What she can do is assess the structure of the burning structures and think back to any relevant scenarios in the past and apply what worked.

When it comes to new encounters, you can rely on your imagination when it comes to deciding which approach is the right one. For example, Solution A can produce this adverse outcome, and Solution B can deliver a good one. You would know how you should approach a problem if you know how to evaluate the possible outcome.

When a different situation arises, slow yourself down and delay judgment for a little bit. Ask yourself whether the information before you contradicts your beliefs and how a different one can result in a much better solution.

Find your own path and apply learning “best practices” to your organization.

Now that there is a high chance of you pumped up and ready to apply these lessons to your organization let us motivate you further through these real-life success stories.

Hedge fund Bridgewater records all conversations going through the company, especially the ones related and directly affecting their company performance-meetings, interviews, and work-related discussions are all taped for later reviews.

This approach to both transparency and communication made the employees feel vulnerable and exposed, especially their weaknesses. As a result, performance was leveled up, and teammates were honest with giving feedback and appreciative of receiving them so they can all develop.

Intuit, an accounting software solutions developer, created a different approach to attain their goal of producing genuine innovation. It started observing a methodology used by creative to examine, identify, and create new products. It gave its employees the freedom to come up with their original and creative projects through experimentations and allotted time. The ideas with great potentials received prizes, too!

Did you know that the United Parcel Service (UPS) had its humble beginnings with a bike and a $100 budget? Whenever UPS tried to expand its service, roadblocks would appear.

As it turned out, it was not easy to handle worldwide delivery, overnight shipping, or air services. But UPS transformed shortcomings and failures into essential lessons, and it worked on its employee fulfillment growing its core values and culture, then rewarded its employees with stock plans following to 90% retention rate by 2012.

Final Summary

As a leader, the path to which you will take your team with you is your call. But if you are after success, know when the path you choose is the right one for your business. And the only way to know for sure is by constant learning through deep learning.

Oblivion is never the path to opt for your business, nor your team. You can ensure your legacy by continuously learning because after all, you either learn or die.