The Biggest Barrier to Learning

The Biggest Barrier to Learning

When I toiled away  in the corporate world, I disliked meetings, especially the Thursday Afternoon meetings which lasted for hours and accomplished not a lot. Every few months there would be new corporate buzz words, that it was worth your job to know. I can’t remember how many because they changed so often. At one point toward the end (for me) there was something about the four “C”. Haven’t got a clue now what they were, and even back then I rebelled against the corporate slang. A new slang word seemed to spring up every few weeks and if you couldn’t drop it causally into a conversation, well you just weren’t with it.  I remember “double down” was in for a while though not being a poker player I struggled to come up with a hip way to throw it around so I sounded cool and corporate.

Thank god those days are gone.

But for a while something accidentally sensible happened,  to make our meetings more productive and less time-consuming, a set of rules came down from on high about how to conduct a meeting. There were ten rules I believe, including having a time-keeper, a what happens in Vegas rule  and a few others. One rule stuck out for me.

Allow for the one percent possibility that you could learn something.

One percent!

Only one percent.

But the more I attended those meeting, sadly, I saw that  even prying people’s minds open just that one percent appeared impossible.



That’s the biggest barrier to learning, our egos. We come armed ( I don’t use that word lightly) with a full set of defenses against any possibility of being compromised by any hint of weakness, lack of understanding, pass embarrassments, hurts, slights, and fears related to our capabilities.  We come prepare to defend to the death that we all ready know all there is to know and that even to admit to the slight possibility that we don’t know it all, opens a doorway to all our fears and self-doubt about whether we are even worthy.

 How did he get to be the expert?

What right does she have to butt in.

Nobody is going to tell me how to do my job.

How could they even suggest that I could do that better, have they tried?

What does she think I’m just out of high school?

And on and on it goes. I am sure you can come up with some of your own defenses that you use to protect you from the very thought that you might not know the answer.

To learn is to become vulnerable, to admit you don’t know it all, even as an authority in your area of ability.

In there, under all the crap we use as armor, hides a fear that maybe we can’t learn something, that maybe we aren’t good enough.

To learn is to grow.

To grow and reach and learn brings success.

To succeed we need to step around our ego and do that thing we fear the most:

Admit to ourselves, at the very least that we can grow, we can learn, we can improve, and that isn’t a sign of failure but the hallmark of success.

Allow for the one percent possibility, please.









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