Sunday 2 January 2011

New Year's Resolution: Unlearning

It's the time of year for articles about New Year's Resolutions -- and most of them are about doing things, such as establishing new habits. Some, though, urge the reader to stop doing things. An example is this one, from the Drucker Exchange (devoted to the writings and management philosophy of Peter Drucker):

"If you’re like most people, you’re working on a list of resolutions for 2011: Eat healthy. Go to the gym more. Read the classics. But Peter Drucker would have likely asked you for a different kind of list: What are you going to stop doing?"

An older post by Bob Sutton, "Bad is Stronger than Good", echoes this theme:

"Studies on workplaces suggest ... that bosses and companies will get more bang for the buck if they focus on eliminating the negative rather than accentuating the positive."

It seems to me that the same thing applies to learning. As 2011 begins, in addition to listing the things I want to learn I'm also asking myself: "What have I learned, that is no longer useful or relevant? What do I need to un-learn in order to move ahead? As Wll Rogers once observed, "It ain't so much what a man doesn't know that causes him so many problems, but what he knows that ain't so."

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