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Stop knowing to learn

Improving Systems and Habits

Scott Miker is the author of several books that describe how to use systems and habits to improve.  This free blog provides articles that to help understand the principles related to building systems.  

Stop knowing to learn

Scott Miker

If your cup is full, you can’t add more.  No matter how much you want to can’t add to something that is already full, you can’t.

The same idea can be found with knowledge.  If we feel we know it all, then we aren’t open to new concepts and we don’t challenge our beliefs.   This stops us from learning.

While paradoxical I feel that to learn we have to empty ourselves a little.  This usually means shutting off our ego a bit and take humble mindset.  We have to admit that is something that we have to learn, which means that obviously we don’t already know everything we need to about it. 

When I was younger and I struggled to find the right path for me, I felt full of knowledge.  I cared more about what I knew than what I didn’t know.  I would rather spend time talking about what I knew than asking about what I didn’t know. 

But then I realized that I wasn’t where I wanted to be.  It was difficult because I felt I knew what I needed to and it was something other than me holding me back.

But then I started to change my focus.  Instead of trying to hold on to so much knowledge I started to approach situations as if I was a novice.  I started looking for the right path to take, rather than assuming I inherently knew.

This often took me in directions that seemed strange.  But they ultimately provided experiences that I never would have gained had I just kept going in the direction I thought were right. 

So if you are not exactly where you want to be in life, start to take a humble, learning mindset.  Start to realize that if you feel you know it all but aren’t exactly where you want to be, you have to empty yourself a bit so you can add the capacity to add more knowledge. 

This is what Peter Senge speaks of in his systems thinking book, The Fifth Discipline.  He emphasizes the value of the learning organization – the business that is constantly working to learn, rather than the one that becomes locked into the assumption that they are always right. 

The systems thinking mindset can be helpful to see the full system and our small part of it.  It can also help to see how the system can be improved. 

Every system has pros and cons so once you take on the learning mindset you open yourself for constant improvement and growth.  But without that learning mindset you remain closed off to new opportunities. 

What areas of your life can you empty a little to gain something much more valuable?  Where can you search for the right path to follow, rather than assuming you have to develop the path forward?