Understanding the learning context for change

How do we know what learning is necessary within ourselves and those impacted by the change?

The way we learn can impact what learning is necessary for ourselves. We try to formulate our ideas of learning around what affects us the most; what we want to learn, what it is cost-efficient to learn, what employers want us to learn. Daniel Pink’s Drive discusses the three reasons people become motivated (Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose). Although his point is directed at the employer-employee relationship, it can be applied to why people learn. After all why else do we learn unless we’re motivated?

To go back to the more pointed question though, we usually know what is necessary within ourselves by using our ‘gut’ to tell us. If it’s something we really don’t want to know about, we usually ask someone else to validate our decision. As Erica Jong once said, “Advice is what we ask for when we already know the answer but wish we didn’t.”  ;- ) (Hence my photo) Therefore,  if we follow our own internal advice we most often know what it is we really want to do.

What if that desire is thwarted by an outside force, such as an employer? As I once found, it may be time to get out of that environment. I worked in a department of a company where intimidation and veiled threats were the norm. Although high praise was given, it was often followed by intense scorn, often at inappropriate times such as division meetings. At one point in my see-saw of job roles (four within a year) I was told to get training for a new position, only to be told the very night of the last day of class that I was not going to be able to work in the new position I had just been trained to do. Looking back, I realize that my employer had one or two screws, well…not in the correct places! I was not the only one who had felt the effects of the manager’s split personality syndrome. Literally everyone in this team had experienced the same treatment.  The impact of this change in behavior caused many to leave the company sooner or later, as I eventually also did.  This bizarre code of ‘conduct’ caused me to resolve never to be put in this vulnerable type of position again. It also made me realize that coersion and / or negative feedback from employers, or really anyone in the position to influence us – spouses, parents, ‘well-meaning’ friends – is only going to sour the motivation we feel for learning something new. Which brings me to another timely quote, this time from Ayn Rand:
A creative man is motivated by the desire to achieve, not by the desire to beat others.

Note that beating does not have to be physical! Any manner of beating down one’s enthusiasm for a subject, a job role, a class or anything else, has the same end result; it dampens the person’s motivation level, often to a point where it cannot be resurrected to the original state. Don’t let this happen to you.


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