I was listening to a Krista Tippet OnBeing interview with Courtney Martin and Parker Palmer, when I heard one of the most profound quotes. It speaks to the importance of creating a culture of learning in our organizations. And it confirms that a big part of the problem in becoming a learning organization is, in deed, cultural.
“We do not live in a culture that gives us a lot of models of
what it looks like to learn in public.”
– Courtney Martin
The fact that this is a cultural problem means it lies deep within our subconscious. It informs our worldview. Ultimately, it maligns our understanding of what it means to be a leader. Unless one has engaged in some leadership development activities, it is likely that their perception of a leader is some public figure…
And, since we don’t have “a lot of models of what it looks like to learn in public.” the unspoken understanding is that a leader knows-all. It reinforces our addiction to being right and supports the belief instilled by our school system that you’re either right or you’re wrong. If a politician changes their mind they are flip flopping, good food for fodder for a smear campaign.
God forbid you ever change your mind!
In short, we have a silent and toxic killer of innovation and creativity because we have a latent aversion to learning. As a society, we value knowing over exploring. We defend before we listen. Not because we are consciously choosing to. But because that behavior is culturally reinforced.
So, I feel obliged to make sure you know that this is an uphill battle. If you’re striving to collaborate, to innovate, to make cool shit happen, and you feel like you’re always bumping up against a wall…well, you are. Most people haven’t taken the time to question their assumptions or analyze their worldview.
You have to meet people where they are at. You can start by asking questions that challenge the status quo. Do not preach. Do not assert your solution or tell people what to do. Inquire!
Ask open ended questions. Ask questions you do not know the answer to. Ask what if…questions.
And be open to changing your mind!