The secret of great learners: Focus on the process, not the outcome

The history of orthopaedic surgery offers some surprising lessons for self-improvement.

by Bradley Staats

Learning is so vital today that we can think of ourselves as living in a learning economy. We can’t just be knowledge workers; we must also be learning workers. In the words of Jeffrey Immelt, the former chairman and CEO of General Electric, ‘You never hire somebody, no matter what job you’re hiring for, for what they know. You’re hiring them for how fast you think they can learn.’

But we’re bad at learning. Supremely bad. In fact, we’re our own worst enemies. Instead of doing the things that will help us learn, we often do just the opposite. One of the most common mistakes is obsessing about outcomes while neglecting to examine carefully the process through which we achieve them.

I have three sons who, at least for the moment, all love baseball (as does their father). I have the good fortune to help coach each of their baseball teams, although soon their skills and knowledge will surpass mine. Recently my eldest son came to the plate with the bases loaded against a hard-throwing but wild pitcher. Most of the team was either striking out or walking. He ripped a pitch, but unfortunately it went straight to the shortstop, who fielded it on one hop and, given how hard it was hit, easily turned a double play from second base to first base.

Sign in to continue

Sign in

Trouble signing in?

Reset password: Click here

Email: mtsupport@haymarket.com

Call: 020 8267 8121

Register

FREE

  • Up to 4 free articles a month
  • Free email bulletins

Register Now

Become a subscriber

From £66 a quarter

  • Full access to managementtoday.co.uk
  • Exclusive event discounts
  • Management Today's print magazine
  • Plus lots more, including our State of the Industry Report.

Choose a Package