When it comes to adopting a growth mindset, the practice of learning, including making mistakes, is a part of that process. When organizations speak of continuous improvement, they view successes and failures as learning opportunities rather than criteria that define outcomes. When the failures happen, organizations that are engaged in continuous improvement learn how to avoid recreating those same failures moving forward and reflect on these as learning opportunities, rather than a weakness. In order to be continuously improving, we must, therefore, be consistent in our learning.
Failure, mistakes, and the challenges that come are a part of the learning. In order for organizations to hold this mindset, each member of that organization becomes a stakeholder in learning.
In Harvard Business Review’s Special Winter 2019 Issue, “How to Learn Faster and Better,” the letter from the editor’s note said, “if it feels like you don’t have time for learning, know that research has shown that developing a new skill or taking on an intellectual challenge actually makes people feel less overwhelmed, according to Chen Zhang and her coauthors (To Cope with Stress, Try Learning Something New).”
Imagine if we, as a culture adopted this way of being in our personal lives as well as professional lives. The pressure of knowing the right answer along with the pervasive pressure of perfection would ease away, making space for a long runway of learning freedom, full of failure-acceptance! What an amazing way to be as a model for today’s youth.
What does it mean to be a leader? If I am a leader, does that mean I have to be an expert? Isn’t it lonely at the top?
Many leaders feel that they need to be the expert; this was what I understood leadership to be until I encountered the generative methodology. The editors write “biases against failure and inaction are endemic to organizations, and most lack effective measure of employees’ skill development.”
At IGL, we show how to honor and celebrate making mistakes, especially when we are in front of the room teaching. The faculty will often stop and ask a colleague for help when we lose our train of thought or take a pause when a thought distracts us from our point. The fun part about teaching at IGL is that we are demonstrating how you never need to be perfect and can always take a second to collect thoughts or ask for help.
As the CEO of two organizations, I practice the same with my teams. We, as leaders, don’t need to be perfect, experts at leadership, or have all the answers. Our role is to create an environment where others have the space to bring forth their best selves. This, in turn, allows us to be ours. We can’t do that if we are trying to fly solo with the whole of the organization on our wings. We won’t ever get off the ground.
When organizations and its individuals are not open to learning, or if leaders or aspiring leaders hold on to the notion that we “need to” or “should” know the answer, we are not encouraging others to say “I don’t know,” which are the words needed for continuous learning and evolution.
What if you were to practice saying “I don’t know” three times a day at home, with friends, and at work? Does this provoke discomfort? If so, this is a great place to practice. The more we say “I don’t know, what do you think?” or “I don’t know, but I would love to hear what you have to say,” the more comfortable that becomes, and then we can find another place to step into learning.
We, at IGL, are your resource for your relationship with learning. Visit back soon to learn about ways we can support you as you grow in the new decade.
For those who are practitioners and those who are curious learners, we offer a place to come practice. We are offering to bring in two distinctions that are a part of our curriculum and shifts our future. Two of the six speech acts: Declaring and Assessing.