Growth is the enemy of Learning
One of the biggest challenges in the industry today is people’s lack of motivation to constantly learn and reinvent themselves. When I look back at my career I notice that my list of failures dwarfs my successes. In an entrepreneurial role today, I fail multiple times each day. Each morning I talk to myself, inspire my mind to believe it’s going to be a better day than yesterday and slog the day out. The learning is multi-fold but the growth is hardly inspiring to talk about.
I know some of you may be wondering what am I up to with this blog? I am going to touch a politically incorrect topic in this post.
Most of us in our careers worked to grow fast vertically, take on bigger roles, earn bigger titles and compensation. As a result, many of us may have done only 1–2 or 3 kinds of roles 80% of our career. In those areas we may have gained significant depth. If we had to gain exposure in other areas, it would have taken us longer to get to the TOP. Also, we may have had to report to one of our peers or subordinates; which may not have augured well with our inflated egos. So, we put all our efforts to get to the TOP through the shortest possible route and in the shortest possible time. Didn’t matter, if we were ready or not for the TOP job; what mattered was to get there at the earliest (if not first).
This GROWTH is what I call the biggest enemy of LEARNING. As one is reading this blog, many thoughts may come up immediately to rationalize the argument to others vs. self. For once if we listen to our thoughts, knowing very well that no one is listening — the TRUTH will become visible to us.
Today, we all argue that the “attitude of learnability” is the most important need of the hour. With massive change underway around us, the only survival skill today is “attitude of learnability”. This includes learning fast, unlearning faster and reinventing oneself all the time. Change is no longer outside of us, it is within us or if I may dare say — change is us!
But why are people struggling to change oneself and wear an attitude of learning? The answer is simple — it’s so uncomfortable. I have gotten this far without having to change myself much or learn much either; why do I have to go through this pain of learning now? Like many other disruptions around me, this also shall pass. Let me wait it out, in the hope that this disruption will not hit me. So, hope is my strategy!
I often wonder who created this problem? When we reach the TOP, we become masters of convenience. If I have someone do a great job/role in one area, all I want is for him/her to do is continue to do that more & more. It is convenient for me, as the results I desire are predictable and certain to happen. If I rotate this great performing person into another job/role, it is inconvenient for me. I have to let him/her go, deal with multiple uncertainties on the results front and you know what — I need to groom a new person into this role all over again! How inconvenient?
Now for the person doing this job/role, it is convenient too. I do the same job/role, grow vertically year on year (as my boss wants to retain me, hence promotes me), get rewarded for doing the same job over & over again (as my boss finds a way to justify my value & expertise) and so long as I am GROWING, why do I care?
This is a vicious cycle each one of us from the industry is guilty of. Not only that, we are the farmers, who have sown the seeds, nurtured the crops and harvested them year after year.
Today, when we lament that there isn’t a culture of learning in our companies, people are resistant to learn and deal with ambiguity — who do we have to blame?
Isn’t the answer obvious? Just look at a Mirror, you will know.
Would love to hear your thoughts….
Anand Bhaskar — CEO Planet Ganges