Enter any work zone. We find different kinds of people there.
Those who look bored and disengaged, who come to work because they have to. And, those who look tensed, anxious, exhausted and overworked, who desperately wait for that much-needed break.
For both these classes, work is far from inspiring. There’s nothing to look forward to. There’s nothing new to learn. There’s nothing to take home as ‘experience’. It’s just humdrum they need to put up with.
But, amidst this crowd, we do find another breed… souls that are quite excited, that are constantly on the run. Not because they don’t fail. Not because they’ve mastered their game. But because, for them, work is learning. For them, learning happens when they experiment, when they push themselves out of their comfort zone… ’cause, that would demand ‘new mindsets and behaviors’ to handle the un-comfort zone comfortably.
And, this personal growth mindset comes full circle when it takes its experiences also seriously and reflects on them because there’s so much to be learned from them as well.
Arun Pradhan puts it so wonderfully in this inspiring post of his, “Without a reflective process, the experience that lies at the centre of this model would be relegated to being ‘stuff that happens’”.
He also adds, “The process of listening to one’s ‘internal voice’, which is representative of mindset, and positively engaging with and redirecting that voice, requires a deliberate and sustained reflective process (not to mention buckets of patience and self-compassion).”
I just love this phrase ‘buckets of patience and self-compassion’, because we are limited beings, we come with our own baggage that conditions us to think in a particular way. ‘Challenging one’s mental models’ and going beyond them takes time. But, “over time, such an open reflective process might call into question things we assumed to be true, as old and new mental models fight for their place in our minds. In such cases, the process of unlearning and letting go of redundant mental models, is just as important as developing new models moving forward.”
All that’s discussed so far is at the individual level… where people are committed to their own personal growth. But, how does this work from an organization perspective? What should the organization do to achieve the same reflection based learning amongst its employees?
Here are some of my reflections… things I (would) love to do when I’m with my colleagues.
Spotting excited souls is probably one of the easiest things we could ever accomplish. Because they stand out clearly from the rest of the crowd.
Pick them up. And, start small. Give them all the support required. Help them learn and grow. And, use them as the showcase material for others to emulate. Basically, lead people by examples.
While doing all of this, empower these talents with other real-life traits such as taking on challenges bravely and coming through them successfully, because creamy, smooth situations are never perennial. And, through all these ‘enaction’ scenes, let them know they are not alone. Let them know that they have our full support.
As I see it, when we start our proactive people measures this way, we can feel confident that we will move towards making our organization a learning organization.
For more thoughts, check out Arun’s yet another post on Workflow Learning.