If we already know how to do something, it appears that there’s nothing to learn. We are already expert, and in most organisations an Expert is a great thing to be. But if we want people to learn, then those people have to accept that there are things they don’t yet know.
That’s relatively easy when it’s abstract - ‘oh yes, there’s always more to learn’ - but a lot trickier if what they don’t yet know is important stuff that would make them better at their job. That’s because it’s tantamount to admitting that they are not at the top of their game. And that is tough to do in a competitive arena where weakness is frowned upon or turned to your disadvantage.
If you want people to be curious, then ‘not-knowing’ has to be OK. How can that be encouraged in an instant-answer-now and an expertise-valued environment?
Business people often complain that they bring the trials and tribulations of work home with them. During weekends and evenings, rather than fully engaging in social activities with families and friends, they find that their minds wander back to the office and the problems and challenges piled up there.
Given that we care about our work, this isn’t too surprising. We take it seriously as it’s important to us. At the extreme, we let our jobs define who and what we are. Yet we also care at least as much about our families, our communities and our valuable free time.
Let’s re-consider this equation.