By Laura Andersen of LeadingX2
Last weekend I taught a five-year-old how to use a badminton racket. She started off open-minded to learning and eager to experience a new game. With each whiff, her excitement and eagerness shifted toward frustration and anger. Failing was not fun. I used every trick in my repertoire to keep her engaged and motivated until her hit-to-whiff ratio was about even. That success rate was enough to motivate herself to press on and – I think, I hope – pick up a racket again in the future. How often are we that five-year-old?
This year, that is us. Back in March, the big shift in how we move through our community forced us to try to boil down the majority of our daily activities, especially our work, to their core essence. And to learn how to do them with great focus and, often, in a new way. Restaurants limited their work down to preparing food; a dining experience reduced down to delivery or pick-up. Office workers used online tools to collaborate on key projects and hold meetings; gone were social events and office chit chat. Teachers chose the most critical learning objectives to get across online; an integrated, interactive curriculum turned two-dimensional. And millions of students who also access food through schools still had to be fed. There was a lot to learn.
Looking back over the past six months, what has your response been to the learning curve? Many of us – myself included – had an unflattering initial reaction. I resisted the learning. I like to believe I did not show my frustration or anger as transparently as the five-year-old with her racket, but those emotions were still there. Over time, my reaction shifted to a response as I took time and space to adjust and learn.
Much of it has been “unwanted” learning, areas of growth that we would not have chosen for ourselves. Once we move past the resistance to change and embrace the process, the learning can become rewarding. The next swing of the badminton racket is a moment of opportunity and thrill instead of a moment of dread. That shift alone makes the act of learning more enjoyable, even while we wait to regain our comfort and excellence.
The old adage – necessity is the mother of invention – continues to propel us into learning that we do not see coming. My grandfather learned how to use a PC at age 78 as his grandchildren moved online. Who are your role models for adapting and learning? Where have you embodied their acceptance and resilience this year? We all must adapt and learn, and your mindset can set the tone. Remember to model the way with an open mind and lead with your best self.