Albert Einstein, icon of intellect and insight, said “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” Universities are focused on higher learning when perhaps they should promote a course entitled Unlearning 101. Course objectives would include: remove cultural filters; abandon destructive behaviors; and stimulate individual creativity and ingenuity. Unlearning 101 would be a prerequisite for any degree plan. Pursuing a course of higher learning without having properly unlearned is akin to rolling naked in a mud puddle before dressing in a tuxedo. No matter how great the suit looks, you still need a bath.
Coming up on a half a century of life, I realize I’ve spent as much of my life unlearning as I have learning. I was 21 before I finally unlearned the ridiculous view that as long as I still had checks-I had money in the bank. I have unlearned, and am constantly unlearning, trans-generational prejudices. I have unlearned the inherited notion that I have little worth. I have unlearned the deceptive idea that I must always be “right.”
Stephen R. Covey noted, “Accountability breeds response-ability.” You are better equipped to respond when you have effectively evaluated the paradigms that shape your decisions. Even the most obstinate of us will unlearn destructive behaviors when the pain of being stagnant and rejected outweighs the comfort of the old paradigm. Here you become open to accountability, the concept of mutual benefit, synergy, and fulfilling a higher purpose. Dr. Covey proposed, “The way we see the problem is the problem.” To unlearn, your mind must be open to change and employ critical thinking-questioning paradigms, examining facts, and exploring possible outcomes.
People who effectively unlearn are transition people. They represent hope and have great influence on others by sending the message that “you too can change.” Dr. John Covey (often introduced as Steve Covey’s younger, good-looking brother with the great hair) summed it well, “A transition person is one who stops unhealthy behaviors and starts on a new path that radiates positive influence.”
Transition people are quick to advise they did not make the journey of unlearning alone. Many cite mentors, coaches, or advisors who played the important role of confidant and guide to personal greatness along the conversion path. Executive coaching is an effective solution to acquiring the support, and achieving the clarity and balance, necessary to forge your road to success. As a coach, I guide my clients through a process of exploring issues, barriers, opportunities, and options. We work together to identify goals, leverage strengths, create a plan and track progress. This clarity, focus and support builds confidence and helps you find the courage to change and fulfill your potential as a community and business leader. Enlisting a coach is like registering for Unlearning 101. It is investing in your future-a declaration of interdependence-the ROI for which is priceless.
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