Just as learning is a critical skill it is also important to know how to unlearn. To know how to let go of something.
“The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.”
~ Alvin Toffler, Futurist & Philosopher
Unlearning is perhaps the single most important skill you can develop in order to get ahead. In fact, you may already be very good at it. It’s something most everyone learns early in life. The ability to unlearn may be what got you to where you are today. And it will be the thing that helps you grow in life, business and your career.
There is a difference between unlearning and forgetting. One is active and the other is passive. Everyone forgets things. Sometimes by forced action on our part and other times because it’s just human nature. However, the ability to unlearn is critical to your success in business and in life. This is not to say that you should unlearn everything. There are a lot of things you will inherently be able to do for your entire life.
Unlearning is related to understanding. Perhaps Isaac Asimov said it best when he was describing how he consumes information. Which ties to the concept of Learning Agility – a capability that enables rapid study, analysis, and understanding of new situations.
“I am not a speed reader. I am a speed understander.”
~ Isaac Asimov
Being able to unlearn is a skill that will serve you well. The most obvious examples of unlearning are tools you use today were unheard of 10 years ago. The smartphone that is within arms reach didn’t exist. The applications you use daily also didn’t exist. The Internet existed, but continues to be tapped as a resource to learn and unlearn.
The Internet has been around for 50 years and has fundamentally changed the way we work, live and learn. The internet is a good example of how fast things change and how we need to be able to unlearn. As new apps come to consumer and business markets we need to adapt and learn new capabilities while unlearning older functionality.
Learn, Unlearn and Relearn
Unlearning and Acquiring New Learning are Critical Skills that can help you Stand Out in Your Career. Everyone has unique skills. No one else can do what you do. Sure, there are people with your same degree, your same job title and perhaps with a lot of other similarities. But, you are unique in the way you consume, process, analyze, synthesize and share information.
The only way to get ahead is to let go. To let go of the past so that you can move forward.
While this may seem strange the reality is that we have been Learning, Unlearning and Relearning our whole lives. We build upon the foundation of what we’ve learned to continue growing, but at the same time we flush away some of that knowledge because it’s out-dated or doesn’t serve us in the same way it has in the past.
The Root of Unlearning
As the global workforce is becoming more decentralized and remote the ability to get work done any where is placing a lot of demands on the 3 billion working people around the globe. As the rules continue to morph and change at an ever faster pace your ability to be agile and to let go of old rules and learn new ones becomes increasingly important.