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Learn + Win

By Chuck Cusumano and Jillian Broaddus

“The only way to win is to learn faster than everyone else.”

These are words from Eric Ries, author of The Lean Start-Up. The greatest leaders are life-long learners, and the best way to learn is from our past experiences: the successes, the failures, and everything in-between.

However, most of us go through life without pausing to reflect on what we’ve learned from any given decision, plan, or course of action. We live in the future, always set on the next goal or item to check off our to-do lists. However, here’s what you must do if you hope to learn:

  • Schedule time: It’s easy to get bogged down in busyness. However, scheduling a half hour every week to reflect on what went well (and what could’ve gone better) is the starting point to self-growth. If you find that a half hour isn’t enough, allot more time!

  • Look past the outcome: We often overlook the process and solely focus on the results. However, many times, there are facts out of our control – luck, chance, global pandemics! – that may impact a decision’s upshot. Focus more on what could’ve been improved in the process, not necessarily on what the final product was.

  • Talk it through: Reflecting can be an emotional experience. You may find your judgment clouded by the emotions of an ego blow or an ego boost. Overcome your personal biases! Talking through your experiences with an objective third party can be a key ingredient to gaining clear insight.

  • Keep a record: Document, document, document! It is psychologically proven that writing something down makes us significantly more likely to remember it. Keep notes during projects – what you were thinking and what you were doing – for the most effective possible debrief.

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