10 Obstacles That Prevent Positive Transformation
Transformative learning is challenging and takes place only through practice, patience, and perseverance. Indeed, these three qualities are the hallmarks of a committed learner. The only way to embody a new competence is through recurrent practice, which takes time and requires patience. The committed learner must continue to practice, persevering through doubt, weariness, negative assessment and the occasional rotten mood.
Consider these tips on how to effectively deal with forces that prevent learning and, thus, transformative forward momentum:
1. Being blind to your blindness. We all have blind spots. These are normal, natural, and common, but they limit us. Books, lectures, and recordings can help us see new possibilities for learning, as can asking a friend or co-worker for an honest assessment of our actions. The number one enemy of learning is “knowing,” or more precisely, the assumption of knowing, which can readily render you visionless. By recalibrating the lens through which you view the world, and your understanding of it, and actively seeking new knowledge, opinions and insights is a key opening a wealth of possibility.
2. The desire to be comfortable. Comfort is a formidable enemy. When confronted with new ideas, most people react strongly…and not in a favorable, amenable way. When our familiar patterns, associations, and responses are challenged, we tend to respond with fear and anger. Because our minds cling to stability and predictability, we tend to judge something new as “dangerous” or “disruptive.” Everyone is seemingly in favor of learning, though as long as it doesn’t mean them and it doesn’t mean now. The array of excuses, dodges, and delays we toss out can be astonishing. In short, beware of the perfectly natural desire for comfort. Unfortunately, comfort and authentic learning are mutually exclusive. Simply put, you must get out of your comfort zone to transcend.
3. The insistence on understanding everything all the time. Any new idea or practice seems difficult, complicated, and unclear simply by virtue of it being new. Along with our desire for comfort and safety, we also crave understanding, falling prey to the notion that clarity yields safety and certainty. When an unfamiliar situation lacks clarity, we tend to label the agents of change as “wrong.” “If the coach really knew what he was talking about,” the quarterback grumbles after practice, “then this new offense wouldn’t be so confusing.” “If this is so great, then it should be easy to understand.” In both instances, a person grants himself permission to dismiss the new practice and retreat into the security of the familiar. That withdrawal closes the possibility for learning.
4. Confusing opinions with learning, and awareness with competence. An opinion is not the same as a thought. Thinking is the process of generating an original idea or distinction. It requires energy and attention while having an opinion requires neither. Under the sway of our opinions, we block opportunities for learning. This is because we think that because we have an opinion about something, we must “know” it. When we confuse awareness with learning, we mistakenly assume that a new awareness automatically equates to a new competence. The attainment of awareness and the development of competence are two entirely different processes.
5. Desire for instant gratification. We want it all, and we want it now. This “disorder” is especially prevalent in the business world. Developing genuinely new management practices requires months and often years of work. The more senior the executive, the more deeply embedded their style, and the longer it takes to learn and change. It’s foolish to assume that any two-day corporate retreat can prove sufficient for reshaping practices that have taken decades to establish. This