Some people call it resistance to change. I think it is just the uncomfortable feeling we get when we try something new. The resistance comes from the fear of the unknown of the outcome. This is how we learn. I often quote Einstein’s definition of insanity, “Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result”. Until we try something new, we will keep doing the same things, which will result in the same outcomes. Doing the same things over and over is OK provided it is producing the outcomes we want, but if it isn’t, then we need to do something different.
When we develop any action plan, be it strategically or operationally, we always follow the same learning path. So understanding how we learn, and embracing the discomfort of learning, actually makes it easier to implement.
The steps to learning are:
- We don’t know what we don’t know – this is what a new issue is like, that we haven’t previously had to deal with, before it comes onto our radar. We don’t give it any though because there is no reason to. When you were a small child, you didn’t even think about driving a car, you didn’t need to.
- We know what we don’t know – the issue is now on our radar. We are aware of it, but not quite sure what to do about it or how to deal with it. It often feels quite uncomfortable, that which is the unknown. It’s then time to start learning to drive and you become acutely aware that you don’t know what to do.
- We know what we know – having identified that we need to do something we then start taking steps to do it. In implementing, we are very methodical, if not cautious in our approach. We consider all the options, develop an action plan, ask a lot of questions and then start implementing. Gradually it gets easier and easier. You know you put your seatbelt on, put the key in the ignition, check your mirrors, and so on. You keep doing the same routine each time, and eventually it gets easier and low and behold, you are driving.
- We just do it – this is when our learning becomes second nature. We don’t think, we just do. It is hardwired into our behaviour. Eventually, you just get into the car and drive without thinking how to.
So, understand that steps 2 and 3 in the learning process are just that, steps to hardwiring new outcomes. The only way to stop the uncomfortable feeling of knowing what you don’t know and knowing what you know, is to DO. Embrace it and implement. You won’t get it right every time, but you never know until you try. The reality is, learning never stops, you adjust and change from what you know so that you get the outcome you are after.