When I was a student I never knew about the word ‘unlearning‘. Even the other day when I posted about unlearning, someone asked if that was a real word. We live in a time when unlearning has become so important than even learning. And why is that?
The world we live in is said to be a VUCA World.. Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous. What that means in simple words is that things are changing, world is changing and we are also changing and we need a new set of skills to navigate through it. Not just that… we also have to forget a few things we thought to be true.
This is where unlearning comes into picture. It is easier to learn than to unlearn. Unlearning is that process of discarding something from our memory. This can be ideas, concepts, perceptions and so on. Like clearing out things to create a fresh slate for us to start learning.
Looking back at my past 11 years of working in corporate America in my second innings and being part of teams that have been at the core of navigating change… be it Digital transformations or Agile Transformations there are a few things I have had to unlearn. I will share two of that which are kind fo interlinked as well.
One would be the thought that there is someone who knows everything. I had been attuned to the idea that experience and title means they know it all. But experience and title means they have experience and title. Knowledge is what is needed right now. I am not saying experience does not count. But new problems require new ways of thinking.. We will need to dig new tunnels into the future than looking back into the tunnels that shine light on the past. We need both…
The second one is to add on the first, I have had to re-evaluate my own experience and knowledge on many circumstances where I found myself inadequately prepared to handle change. One sign for this is when certain things make me uncomfortable.
May be a new way of thinking or a negative comment on an existing process that I have been so glued into…. The moment I feel uncomfortable it is a sign that I have something to unlearn. Time to step back and evaluate what makes me uncomfortable and then keep all pieces on the table and check what is wrong in my thinking or process.
This does not start as a group activity for me. Before it becomes a group activity, it is a solo journey. There are more examples of unlearning and we will revisit this topic again in the future.
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