Learning Something Everyday

Leaning is a winding path

Part of the mission I set forth with Hard Way MBA is to learn something everyday and use this platform to codify that learning. I’ve always considered myself an active learner. I read a few dozen books a year. I ask questions of colleagues who’ve ‘been there and done that’. What’s supposed to be different here is the documentation of what I learn.

I’ve found this to be really freaking hard. So hard, in fact, that I’ve yet to find a way to accomplish it. 

In the real world, where learning is done the hard way, there is not straight line from concept to execution. There are roundabouts and detours – lots of them. They’re part of the journey and solidify the knowledge but also make it difficult to look back at yesterday and articulate ‘This is what I learned.’
I think of it this way: Picture a rabbit, running through a field. he can’t tell you about the field while he’s in the middle of it. He doesn’t yet know what’s in the northeast corner, he’s not been there yet. What he can tell you is that this little patch looks a mess and that area is growing nicely. The trouble with those tidbits is that they lack context and are not generalized; they’re very specific to his situation. Once the rabbit has sufficiently explored the field a complete image begins to emerge. At that point, it becomes something that he can articulate (assuming rabbits can articulate anything) that will have value outside of his immediate context.
How we Learn the Hard WayHere’s the rub: This is how we, as humans, internalize information. Learning is easy – it’s memorization and regurgitation. There’s a healthy dose of that involved in every formal learning process. However, that’s not terribly valuable in an age where Google can find 95% of that information in .50 seconds. The value of experiential learning is the internalization process that comes after the memorization. That’s always been the point here at Hard Way. That’s also why the best business schools in the country (read Harvard, Stanford, Booth, etc.) have a heavy dose of ‘Field Learning’ incorporated into their curriculum. It’s the reason we should all be looking mindfully at our experiences in an effort to extract and articulate what we’ve learned. Otherwise, we risk the knowledge being lost to time. My friend and super bright dude, Scott Pope, said this well the other day over lunch ‘There’s a big difference between having 20 years of experience and 1 year of experience 20 times over.’
Alas, is there a moral to this story? I believe that the struggle to articulate what I’m learning everyday forces a new kind of mindfulness about the experiences I’ve had. Without pushing myself (and mostly failing) to articulate something each day, I don’t believe that would be able to see the entire field as clearly, even once it’s been thoroughly traversed.
  • Are you being mindful about what you’ve learned today?
  • Are you struggling to articulate your new found knowledge?
  • Are you willing to do the hard work, especially when no one is watching?