Monday, January 7, 2008

Learning versus thinking hard

Thinking hard is to be commended. I admire it. But it isn't part of learning.

Learning enables those who undertake it to be better at coping with the aspects of life that cause us to be shaken and confused. Its end is not intellect but mindfulness.

Now much of what shakes and confuses us is the circumstances of living in a global, fast-paced and confusing world. Retreating from these stimuluses is not learning even if it allows coping. Learning is a special capacity to go out in the world and still remain mindful.

Learning teaches us empathic listening, doubt about certainty, and an aethetic appreciation of our experiences. It doesn't teach us facts or methods. It reminds us about cultures but it does not impose any on us. Training does that.

Learning enables our actions to be balanced with risks, rewards, hopes and expectations. The leader uses learning to make moral decisions. These do not install policies--something that can be necessary in organizations--rather, moral decisions of a leader enable others to take moral actions. This can often be done through example but also by simply boosting those doing meaningful and mindful work.

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