Learning to Unlearn

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change”
Charles Darwin

Pic Learning

With the increasing volume of information and advances in all fields, we are driven to continuous learning to keep up-to-date. Our understanding of things and our capacity for solving issues is now far more important than just acquiring knowledge.

The latest generations were educated in a model based on memorizing data rather than practicing in the real world. Today, it is essential to learn to be flexible and permeable, to have the possibility to adopt different perspectives and to be able to change the course of things.

We are all born with a strong desire to learn, but some people lose the passion for learning and avoid situations where they may be forced to learn something new: they prefer to create a safe and secure world for themselves. In order to move forward we need to be in a constant state of adaptation, continually unlearning old rules and relearning new ones. That requires continually questioning assumptions about how things work, challenging old paradigms, and ‘relearning’ what is now relevant in our job, in the industry, for our career and even for our life.

The major changes we will be forced to make in life will involve unlearning old habits and views that no longer serve us. It is therefore essential to “unlearn” in order to be able to acquire new knowledge and skills. This does not mean to regress, but to be able to move forward leaving behind useless burden, eliminating beliefs, prejudices and ideas that are no longer useful to us.

The world of work is moving and changing fast. However, it is not just about keeping up with the rate of change and the nature of the work we do, but how we do it and where. Our ability to adapt to change and to proactively make changes in our career is what will make a crucial difference in the future.

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Six Thinking Hats

Our brain tends to look for logical solutions to our problems. It relies on what is regular, through the usual neural pathways : this would be a vertical thinking. Edward de Bono, one of the foremost experts in the fields of creativity, published in 1976 «The Use of Lateral Thinking», a book explaining an unusual way of thinking.

Lateral Thinking is solving problems through an indirect and creative approach, using reasoning that is not immediately obvious and involving ideas that may not be obtainable by using only traditional step-by-step logic. (Wikipedia)

Lateral Thinking allows us to find new solutions to any experience or challenge from multiple perspectives, and in order to develop it, we can follow different paths : 1/check assumptions, 2/formulate appropriate questions, asking from the most general to the most specific, 3/seeing things from many perspectives and 4/apply logic.

Critical Thinking Vs Lateral Thinking

Critical Thinking is primarily concerned with judging the true value of statements and seeking errors, while the essence of Lateral Thinking is that at any moment, everyone is looking and working in the same direction.

Six Thinking Hats

The Six Thinking Hats method

The main difficulty of thinking is confusion. Emotions, information, logic, hope, creativity… all crowd in on us. It is is like juggling with too many balls. The Six Thinking Hats method allows every thinker to do one thing at a time and to separate emotion from logic, creativity from information, and so on.

Edward de Bono identifies six directions in which the brain can be challenged. However, none of these directions are completely natural ways of thinking, but rather how some of us already represent the results of our thinking. Six distinct directions are identified and assigned a color:

The White Hat – Facts and Figures
The Red Hat – Emotions and Feelings
The Black Hat – Cautius and Careful
The Yellow Hat – Optimistic and Positive
The Green Hat – Creative Thinking
The Blue Hat – Management and Control

Coloured hats are used as metaphors for each direction. Switching to a direction is symbolized by the act of putting on a coloured hat. Sequences always begin and end with a blue hat. The first one indicates what we are thinking about and the final one indicates what we have achieved and what are the next steps.

One of the most immediate benefits of that method lies in the neutralization of some people’s egos: those who usually like to argue to demonstrate their ability to be right, whatever the issue. When using the hats, these will probably still feel the need to impress the crowd, but at least the hats will help to channel their ideas in a more constructive way.

Put into practice, in a meeting for example, each participant has to wear the same coloured hat one at a time. They evaluate the outcomes of that thinking and what they should do next. And then they put on another coloured hat, and so on. That is lateral thinking! Thinking in the same direction and making fullest use of everyone’s intelligence, knowledge and experience.

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If A is success in life, then A = X + Y + Z

Where X is work, Y is pleasure and Z is keep your mouth shut!

Einstein by Ana Perez

No doubts, the figure of Albert Einstein has gone beyond the realm of science to become an icon of modern culture. And not only for its unique styling, or for winning a Nobel Prize, or even for being the father of the theory of relativity. Besides having revolutionized physics, Einstein was a staunch advocate of peace and a brilliant thinker on the art of living. His words of wisdom for everyday life proved that he kept his feet on the ground.

I love Einstein. I am currently reading a book about him called “Atomic Solutions for Relatively Serious Problems” by Allan Percy. The book collects great reflections of this genius and illustrates practical situations of everyday life. Einstein was, above all, a problem solver. Nowadays, where the pressure is high and the compensation low, his teachings could help us to put things into perspective. One example is about the importance of silence.

There are many trainings teaching us how to speak correctly and effectively, but it is difficult to find one on how to keep our mouths shut. Speaking only when necessary, measuring our words and, in many situations, being able to remain silent, is one of the formulas for success. The “economy of words” is a very valuable option for both private and professional relations. People with empathy know how to listen and observe people, and they speak only when necessary and worth it. We learn far more by actually listening than by talking. In fact, many problems remain unsolved because our ego pushes us to be right and to speak up, and we seldom take the point of view of the other person into account.

If you are not sure about something, «say what you have to say, tomorrow» (Japanese proverb).

Feel free to leave a comment or say hello on Twitter @ananaesana