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The Art of Relearning

TIGNUM Thoughts

May 30th, 2020
By Scott Peltin

There is something special about the first time that you learn something. Your brain is wide open, there are no old learnings in the way, and it's exciting and new. This is probably the way most of us approached our university time. In just a short 4 years, our brains were stuffed with tons of new theories, new facts, new ways of thinking, and a great sense of accomplishment as we received our certificate of being a good sponge.

I remember those days fondly. I even remember that element of overconfidence from thinking that my grade point average was some indication of how competent I was. This was the product of doing a good job in being a good learner, but it was also a product of not truly understanding what I didn't know. As it turns out, research says that 20% of our learning is from formal learning (coursework, professors, and gurus), while 80% of our learning is from informal learning (life experiences, lessons from the application of knowledge, and failure).

This means that the learning of information is almost interesting, but the relearning of information is critical. The more we practice things that we think we already know, the better we retain and, even more importantly, apply the information.

An observation I have made about myself (and many others) is how I react when someone is teaching me something that I think I already know. Sometimes, I simply nod my head and say to myself, "This confirms what I thought I already knew." This feels good; but if I'm honest, it may also be feeding my confirmation bias and creating a blindspot to a new nuance, a new finding, or a new application of the information. Other times, I find myself taking a different reaction where I get impatient and almost irritated by the fact that I have already ticked this box of knowledge, and this is now wasting my time. This is the true danger zone because this is a perfect definition of a fixed mindset, which is the kiss of death for personal and professional growth. Yet, recently, I have grown to really appreciate the value and the art of relearning stuff that I previously thought I already knew.

When we relearn something, with an open and interested growth mindset, we get to take our original knowledge and add to it new depth, new insight, new nuance, new experience, and new context. In this place, knowledge can be applied in new and impactful ways. Wisdom can be developed and a deep understanding of information can be achieved. It's only through relearning that we can actually combine the formal and informal learning processes to even begin to approach our full potential.

The next time someone is telling you something you already know, observe yourself and see if you are ticking the box of "I already know this" and shutting down. Or are you opening your mind, asking great questions, challenging your status quo, and truly growing? If you can move to the latter, I am confident that your Sustainable High Impact will grow exponentially.

As always, I would love to hear your thoughts.

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