The sheer joy of learning……

Learning is joyful

It enlarges the soul, it makes us stronger, and it contributes to our happiness

It’s not always easy, especially when you are having to learn hard and fast

Correcting mistakes rapidly to course correct and keep growing

Growing requires mistakes

That’s where the magic happens

You talk to a tech startup who went through rapid growth, rapidly doubling your workforce, then doubling again, and again, and again, going from a handful in an apartment to 100’s of people, finding offices, setting up procedures and systems, recruiting a leadership team, a people director, a finance director, a sales director, developing your product, adding features, and doing all this while delivering a service to your customers, correcting mistakes as you go

It’s constant Beta

And it’s tough

Even, relentless

But there is SO much growth, personal growth

How many founders have created global companies?

Was Mark Zuckerberg able to run a $171B company when he was sat in his dorm room thinking about what eventually became Facebook?

Could Reid Hoffman have created LinkedIn without creating Paypal?

Could he have created Paypal without creating the other failures that went before it?

Could Elon Must have created the Telsa of today and belted the world with electric cars, either ones he made or ones other companies made without doing Paypal first?

Could he have created Space X and launched the Falcon 9 heavy into orbit and put a car into space?

All these people, and the many many millions that were part of these journeys and many others that went with them

Edison, Ghandi, Churchill, Carnegie, Federer, Farah, Schumacher, Senna, Disney

We grow from learning and making mistakes, reviewing our mistakes and correcting course

We grow by developing our ability to self reflect and change our behaviours and choices, we grow when we invite feedback, when we ask for guidance and then learn from it

There is so much joy in learning

Then we go into a corporate environment and yet somehow learning does not seem so fun

People don’t so much like our mistakes

They don’t so much like us failing, and getting things wrong

Somehow the rules a different, here you are NOT to fail, here you win by winning only, here you win by presenting the best picture

Somehow there isn’t so much joy in the learning

I spoke to a manager once who said “but why on earth would I want them to make mistakes that’s crazy”

You just cut your human down

You cut their legs off

They were not born perfect, they didn’t come to you perfect

If you give them the scope to fail and learn, you also give them the ability to grow

You give them legs to run

I know, having met and spoken to managers the sheer idea of this is sometimes genuinely scary


You want me to do WHAT??

How do you build a global company like Google with 74,000 people and a $TRILLION company from nothing in 20 years without learning?

You can’t

When you build something like that you have to learn, and learn hard and learn fast

At what point did we decide we no longer need to learn?

There is so much joy to be had from learning and growing, and it turns out, there is a return too

There is a return on this learning, it makes you stronger, faster, and more valuable

There is value in this learning

What value did Edison create from the learning that was compounded as he made another attempt at the incandescent lightbulb?

This learning is commercially viable

You can sell this learning, either as a product or a service or as knowledge via consultancy or training

At what point did we decide we no longer want people to make mistakes?

I have seen plenty of roastings, and had a few myself

This is not the most effective way to learn

Fear, it turns out, is not the best teacher

A genuine teacher is

A teacher that is wiser than you, that can help you learn, reflect on your mistakes, help you see things you cannot see, hold you to account, and occasionally apply consequences to help you learn

That’s how we learn

Tech start-ups had to devise ways to learn hard and fast

I wonder if today Google learns as hard and as fast as it did in the early days, I wonder how it will learn in 100 years from now

It will inevitablely become more difficult and to some degree isn’t quite as appropriate to learn in that same way when you are a global business with 74,000 people – but there IS a way we can create a learning organisation, no matter how big and how old and how entrenched a fear based culture, there IS a way this can be broken down, and we CAN start to learn once more

Human beings are happier when they are learning, there is SO much joy from that

“hmmm we have messed this up boss, I clearly didn’t prepared well enough for this roll-out and it’s going badly”

“ok cool, so what have you learnt so far”

“ok, so this is what we learnt so far…………”

“ok, you want some extra observations…….”

“so let’s sit down next week, go back over the learnings, and see if we need to pivot again”

“great, thanks boss”

And it turns out, there is a TON of value too

They weren’t born perfect, they didn’t come to you perfect, and they never will be, but we CAN create an environment that is conducive to learning and growing, to sharing these learnings, being open and honest, enabling others to learn from our mistakes and driving collective value

And it turns out that it’s WAY more fun being in that kind of environment than one that attempts to limit and contain mistakes

Happier people are more engaged, more responsible, learn faster, and perform better, and create more value

It’s a total win-win



Tom uses a Performance Framework called The Pathway Principles to drive learning and accountability in business, a formula for learning, if you want to find out more type “yes please” in the comments and Tom will be in touch

Tom is just publishing a brand new book called The Pathway Principles with all the principles, the manager guides and everything you need, if you want an early copy, for free, drop a comment below “book please Tom”, there is a total of 20, when they are gone, they are gone.

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