Journey to Stardom: Learn, Unlearn and Relearn
“The illiterate of the 21st Century are not those who cannot read and write but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn.”
― Alvin Toffler, Powershift: Knowledge, Wealth, and Power at the Edge of the 21st Century
Learning is the process of acquiring new, or modifying existing, knowledge, behaviors, skills ,values , or preferences .Unlearning is the process of realising that something which we learnt earlier is incorrect, ineffective, or obsolete, admitting it and deciding to erase such bad conditioning and misconceptions from our mind for good. It is the process of exploring what we have stored in our system and deleting all the unnecessary data. It is the process of saying bye to an old, obsolete, and outdated paradigm, and embracing a new paradigm and willingly undergoing a paradigm shift.
When we allow ourselves to be controlled by our preconceived and misconceived notions, governed by myths, conditioned by false assumptions and (mis)guided by wrong opinions we have formed about people, we are not open to new ideas and are unwilling to undergo a paradigm shift. When we fail to allow our minds to let go of “mis-and-dis-beliefs” we have held and learnt over a period of time, we don’t allow ourselves to blossom.
A close introspection will help us know whether we are really interested in unlearning what we have learnt. Unlearning makes us literate, educated, and wise. Unfortunately, the topic “unlearning” has not been much discussed in academia and the need for it is not emphasized in our educational institutions.
Unfortunately, we are controlled by myths which do not allow us to open our eyes to reality.Our culture places so much emphasis and value on learning, especially established standard content. That is important and enables us to feel we are making progress in life, materially, and psychically. We feel secure, and have a sense of self-worth.Unlearning is an ever-changing, fluid process of exploration by using different sets of questions about everything we know and value to discover unknowns.
Relearning can be more accurately described as refocused learning. If the focus, assumptions, objectives, and methods remain the same, won’t we learn the same lessons? How can we “relearn” something we believe we already know? When the challenges have changed, how useful is that? we resist “unlearning and relearning”, just as we resist many kinds of change. The initial challenge is that our egos hate being torn down, even to be rebuilt.If learning is seen as a process of “connecting the dots”, understanding the relationships between data points (of reality), then unlearning must begin with asking about the data points themselves.Unlearning is about moving away from something—letting go—rather than acquiring. It’s like stripping old paint. It lays the foundation for the new layer of fresh learning to be acquired and to stick. But like the painter who needs to prepare a surface, stripping the paint is 70% of the work while repainting is only 30%.Learning can be considered to be fixing some new knowledge and unfixing some old knowledge.
This is normally the way the mind works anyway. You learn something, maybe baby talk. Then you learn something better, more important, or more appropriate, and use that instead. You can still baby talk when you want to, but you choose to use the something better to communicate with other adults most of the time. You learned about Santa Clause when you were young, and then you had to unlearn that and learn something new. This is a natural function of the mind.
The problem is when the knowledge becomes too fixed. Old people are accused of this all the time. They are thought to be “stuck in their ways.” Or “an old dog can’t learn new tricks.” A bigot has an odd idea, but can not seem to get past that idea. (to think like the rest of us “un-bigoted” people.) I learned that the Southern States had succeeded as states, and formed their own country, with their own Constitution and all this had been ratified by a majority of people in each of the thirteen Southern states.The skills required to stay relevant will change as well. The skills required for the future workforce consist of things that are not easily automated. Critical thinking skills, complex problem solving, design thinking, creativity and innovation, emotional intelligence, and much more are just some of the new skills that the next generation of workers will need in order to stay relevant. After all, if you are only learning skills that a robot can eventually learn, then you are effectively just learning to be a robot and are at high risk of making yourself irrelevant. We need to cultivate a culture where human beings are encouraged to continually learn and develop themselves, not only to stay relevant but to also keep themselves engaged and to continually grow. It is also equally important that employers provide a platform that allows their employees to be able to do this and cultivate a culture internally that promotes continual learning.
“We don’t know what the world will be like in 10 years. The best focus for people is to make the transitions as effective and painless as possible as opposed to worrying about what the end point is.” – Michael Spence
Learning is a continuous process from cradle to grave. It widens your mental horizons, changes the perceptions and expands your overall intellectual base. According to Stephen R Covey, one of the seven habits of highly effective people is learning, that too, continuous learning. Continuous learning is an exercise to your mind as physical exercise is to your body. To be successful in life, it is necessary to focus on physical, intellectual and spiritual learning.
Continuous learning keeps you updated with latest developments. It changes your mindset with the changing times. It sheds some of your old inhibitions, hesitations and habits. It helps you in reinventing yourself constantly.
“View life as a continuous learning experience.” — Denis Waitley. Let us appreciate the fact that everything starts small. It is human nature, where in, none becomes great in overnight. It requires lot of energies and efforts regularly. Everyone has to start small. Therefore, there is need for learning on a daily basis. The learning need not be by books alone as many think. Learning includes by way of observation, reading, experimentation, practice, training etc., Usually people go for reading books. There are many people with less literacy achieved success, learning by their observation and trial and error method. If learning is the end, the means are many. Whatever the constructive means individuals adopt, finally, it should lead to healthy learning.“Learning is a treasure that will follow its owner everywhere.” – Chinese Proverb
For learning, ego and age should not be a hurdle. We can learn from anybody whether they are older or younger to us. What is important is to recognize that the other person has certain competencies, skills and abilities where we lack. Knowledge can be acquired by respecting others’ potential. Some people hesitate to consult people younger to them as their ego prevents them. Such filters within mind should be eliminated. There was a person by name, John, who joined in a research company. He had 25 years of experience in the industry but was new to the research company. He had huge appetite for learning and growing. He did not hesitate to learn the ropes of the research from younger people. Finally he rose in the research department within a short time as he was not egoistic in consulting and learning from younger people. He combined his previous experience with the existing knowledge and ultimately outsmarted others in the research firm with in a short span. What is needed is to block the ego, which, in most of the times is a stumbling block for learning
“The ink of the scholar is more sacred than the blood of the martyr.” – Mohammed. Have a firm and flexible mindset set that you are still learning and evolving. Don’t take your learning for granted. The learning that takes place during your life may subject to change. The globe was initially believed to be flat. But the subsequent learning confirmed that the globe is round. Therefore, have a flexible and open mindset towards learning.
Try to associate with intellectual friends. You can share your knowledge with them. As well as you can learn. Probably, you may have some of the ideas which are unconfirmed. Creating intellectual ambience can lead to confirmed learning. Besides, it creates more knowledge base. When you discuss with them, the hidden potential within you will surface and you may share the same with them. When others challenge your ideas, then also, you tend to think deeper resulting into creativity and innovation.
Mentoring will help you to communicate effectively. It also helps you to explore and examine your mentees. It is a two way communication where you can share your knowledge, expertise and experience. And also, you can be benefited from the practical experiences and learning of your mentees. Apart from guiding, grooming and gliding your mentees towards their career success, you can get cross checked about your knowledge from their experiences. If there are any variations, the same can be unlearnt and learnt.
Take continuous feedback from your well-wishers and experienced people. Constructive feedback helps in taking the right steps for remedial action for improvement. If there are any deviations in learning, the same can be unlearnt. In this process, care should be taken to consult the right experts who are the authority on the topic.
Finally, be passionate in the process of unlearning, learning and relearning. The passion has to come from the core of your heart.
“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” – Mahatma Gandhi
People need to have open mind towards learning. Many students think that once they complete their academic education, their learning is over. In fact, the real learning starts from the moment they enter into career life. The basic educational qualifications are only the launching pad for getting employment. The real survival and success at the organization front is possible only by unlearning, learning and relearning with the changing times.