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How Do You Stay Learning Agile?

Business people holding gears

Being Learning Agile means knowing what to do when you don’t know what to do.

Recognizing situations when you feel insecure will help you predict such situations and act in the most relevant way when they occur. We all encounter situations that make us feel insecure. The secret is to learn how to deal with them and implement this behavior when faced with adversity. New patterns will form in your mind and actions – and progressively these situations will no longer seem threatening to you.

Four examples of learning agile role models come to mind.

My own way out is always writing down my dilemma.

Several years ago, I was asked to help to recruit a service manager. One of the relevant candidates was a man in his sixties who had been fired. I didn’t think of him as the ideal candidate. However, at our first meeting, something extraordinary happened. Instead of positioning himself as a victim, he told me upfront that he fully understood why he had been fired: “There is absolutely no reason to have an internal service department. That function should be outsourced!” And then he continued telling me enthusiastically about training young people in martial arts. His presence and his continuous balance on his forefeet did the rest. He got the job. And I still have a vivid mental picture of him.

A second role model is Frank Jernigan, a former Google software engineer who joined Google when he was 55 years old. He has continuously kept ahead of the technological curve by teaching himself how to code among other things. Currently, he is working on Ruby on Rails. His advice is: “Keep doing what you love, never allow yourself to be diverted from it. Always be willing to help others along the way with kindness and generosity of spirit. And you do not ever have to fear becoming irrelevant”. He is now 69 years old.

Quentin Tarantino is also a role model of Learning Agility. He is an example of a passionate professional striving for perfection. When shooting films, he often says: “Let’s take it one more time”. When the exhausted actors ask why his answer is: “Because we love making movies!”

Just last week I had the pleasure of experiencing yet another magnificent example of vitality, potency, and vibrancy. Rock legend Iggy Pop gave a sublime show circling the past and the present. Backed by a robust band, the 69-year old rocker showed unparalleled power and determination, challenging himself and the audience to the limit. The most touching and real moment was the grande finale “Here Comes Success”, which was written 40 years ago. It’s never too late! And quality never dies!

Learning Agility is the best predictor of success. It is a statistically validated measure of potential. The concept consists of four Agility dimensions and one Self-Awareness dimension. The four Agility dimensions are Mental, People, Change, and Results. You may score high on all four. However, if you don’t have Self-Awareness you will not be able to profit from your competencies. You will not know what to do when you don’t know what to do!

Your personal challenge is to be explicit about your uncertainty. Voicing your doubts is always challenging, simply because you seldom know why you are uncertain – by definition! My own way out is always writing down my dilemma. I write down the pros and cons and circle around the issue until I find the root cause. Next time, when confronted by a similar issue, I go back and consult my notes. Themes then materialize and my uncertainty progressively evaporates.

Of course, new dilemmas, problems, issues, and conflicts will keep appearing. But by perfecting your Learning Agility you will be able to handle your problems in a more competent manner. And you will feel energized and more in control!

By Stephen Bruyant-Langer

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