I read Chris Brogan’s blog. He writes about community and social media, and by reading his posts I can usually keep myself fairly well-informed about how folks are thinking about and using various social media tools to build and foster relationships.
Today, he wrote a post called How Not to Learn, in which he makes this point:
You are, of course, entitled to your opinion, but where you run into a potential risk is by letting your opinions get in the way of learning something new. I learn best by paying attention to how others do things, especially when I’m learning how not to do things.
If we don’t look for models, if we don’t separate our feelings from our efforts to learn, we miss many opportunities. That last bit bears repeating slightly differently: If you can break out the concepts from the content, the entire kingdom becomes yours.
I think he makes a few good points:
- We can learn by observing others.
- We can learn if we pay attention to our own and others’ mistakes.
- We can learn more effectively if we focus on what we can learn, instead of on what we believe to be true or how we feel about something. What we believe to be true may very well be assumptions clouding our thinking. (As I wrote about previously, I think Pam Houston’s character said it best: “In every assumption is contained the possibility of its opposite.”).
It’s also quite difficult to separate our feelings from our efforts to learn — there is often a lot of emotionality involved in learning, there just is! — but then again, who said getting the keys to the kingdom was going to be easy?