Thursday, September 6, 2012
What I am working on today - unlearning
I consider myself to be a lifelong learner. I can never read enough or write enough to suit myself. I love learning new things. But I've had some difficulty with unlearning. One of the most profound and commonly overlooked aspects of my quest for new learning has been my recognizing the need to unlearn some things. Over 30 years in the Navy, I acquired knowledge, beliefs or positions that but for the protection of my own ego, I would have to admit are outdated and "old school".
Sometimes, the hardest thing for me to change has been my own mind. I know that smart Navy leaders recognize it’s much more valuable to step across mental rhumblines on a chart than to draw them. Here’s the deal: None of us has all the answers, so why even attempt to pretend that we do? Show me a Navy leader that never changes their mind, and I’ll show you a static thinker who has confined his mind to the correctional custody unit (CCU) of mediocrity and thoroughly wasted potential.
Some of the smartest Sailors I know are the most willing to change their minds. They don’t have to be right every time, they just want the right outcome — they want to learn, grow, develop, and mature - and take as many other Sailors on the journey with them. Exposing yourself to alternate opinions allows you to refine your good ideas, weed out the bad ideas and acquire new ideas.
A Navy leader's ability to change their mind demonstrates humility, confidence and maturity. It makes them approachable, and it makes them human. Our Sailors are looking for authentic, leaders who are willing to sacrifice their ego (collar devices) in favor of right thinking.
Hang on, I think I just changed my mind.