Learning vs. Having Learned

by | May 12, 2021 | Blog, Entrepreneurship, Leadership | 0 comments

I was listening to a potty training book of all things when the author, Jamie Glowacki, said something that stopped me short.

“We don’t like learning – we like having learned,” she said.

I’ve always had an idea in my head that learning is supposed to be fun. And there’s some truth to that – it really can be. Watching a whale surface in the ocean while someone explains incredible facts about that whale is fun. Watching a well-made documentary about a topic that interests me is enjoyable, too.

But both of those things are learning ABOUT things. When I truly think about it, I often don’t love learning TO DO things.

Learning how to do something means that I’m going to do it badly for a while. I’d rather not.

I wonder if we’re all like that, from young children all the way up to our elders. It feels great to demonstrate a hard-won skill. But how often do we find ways to dodge the process of iteration and failure that goes into building that skill?

I’ve felt that way a lot as a leader. I want to be a great leader for my team. I don’t want to be learning how to get there, though. It bothers me that I have to do this learning in front of other people.

This is probably why we also tell our stories in the past tense, too. We focus on what used to be hard for us, about that struggle last year that we’ve now overcome, and spend less time talking about what we’re currently working through.

But if we think about things differently and approach our work as a vocation (I am always learning) instead of a demonstration of our expertise (I have learned it all), like we talked about last week, at the very least we can be less surprised by the constant learning curve we experience as entrepreneurs. We can acknowledge when our brain is shying away from a new process of learning and remind ourselves that we don’t get to “having learned” without going through “learning” first.

I’m curious…how do you feel about learning? Have you felt this same resistance?

p.s. If you’ve picked up a copy of Eureka Results, you may have noticed that the final five chapters include practical exercises. You can download a printable version of all of these exercises for free on our book website.