You have to use your MIND (stay open to learning)

At a recent event in Cincinnati (shout out, DisruptHR!), a group of us went out to dinner and, as often happens at these types of gatherings, the conversation ranged all over the place – from discussing the state of local businesses to arguing whether or not I was morally obligated to share any of my dinner.  (The answer was no.)

In general, I didn’t really have a stake in any of the conversations going on (other than the dinner sharing), but suddenly I found myself stepping on a rather large soap box and had to be coaxed down…and it was all about whether or not kids should learn cursive in schools.

Surely you’ve read about it – cursive has been removed from the Common Core because of computers and all that cool tech stuff.  What a waste of time!  After all, these kids are in third grade…there is so much more that they should be learning.  Like how to eat paste.  Why would we possibly want kid to learn something new?


And there’s the crux of my soapbox.  Never mind that there is research that indicates cursive supports brain development.  What bothers me is that there are people out there who are PROUD that they have encouraged 2nd and 3rd graders to reject learning something.

Okay, fine…hardly any of us writes anymore, let alone write in cursive.  My cursive has been a hybrid of print and cursive for years.  But think about the process of learning cursive – it requires discipline, perseverance, patience, even a little artistic flair.  Are any of those things that we wouldn’t want kids to learn?

So…what does this have to do with leadership?  I think too many people in the business world are guilty of the equivalent of refusing to learn cursive because they think they don’t need it.  Development?  Bah!  I know everything you could possibly teach me!  I don’t need that – it’s a waste of time!

Learning is a lifelong practice…with emphasis on the word practice.  Your brain is begging you to keep creating new neural pathways to keep it young.  By being open to learning, you keep your brain primed to take in and process new information.  You shut that down, what good are you to your business?

Here are a few thoughts on how to keep yourself open to learning:

  • Avoid the urge to dismiss: Sometimes new things sound stupid.  And useless.  And a waste of time.  Find out if that’s true before you dismiss it entirely.
  • Embrace the challenge: Sometimes new things sound hard, so we want to avoid them by saying they’re stupid.  See the benefit in learning something new.
  • Find the nugget: Sometimes new things are kind of useless.  I bet you can find something in there you can use.  Maybe it’s a way to reframe your attitude.  Maybe it’s the process you underwent to learn it.  Maybe it’s simply the fact that you kept your mind open.

Always, always, ALWAYS be open to learning new things.  It’s how you stay relevant…and it’s how the world becomes a better place.

Live as if you were to die tomorrow.  Learn as if you were to live forever.
– Mahatma Gandhi

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