Are you one of those impatient, results driven, over achiever types? Yeah, me too. However, recently I have changed my mindset a bit, and have begun to savor in the joy of learning, not just the outcomes. Here are some examples.
It started with an experiment.
In an effort to teach a group of front line leaders how to manage, control and improve processes we did the formal training, but then followed that with some practice exercises. The managers were assigned coaches (I was one of them) and were asked to address real business problems in small teams.
What made this different from all of the other initiatives was that the most important outcome was that the managers learned how to manage and improve the process, and the focus was not on solving the problems. It was about teaching and learning “the how”, not “the what”.
A special project followed this experiment.
I was asked to complete some due diligence on a particular business idea. Would Solution X Solve problem Y? What made this unique was that the problem was in another area of the business and for a particular product in which I was not familiar. So, in order to answer the question, I set up one on one meetings with subject matter experts in different areas of the business.
When I met with the subject matter experts, I did not just ask about Solution X. I asked their opinion on the root causes of Problem Y and what their ideas were to address it. In the end, I learned that Solution X was not a good idea AND I learned a good deal about our business, other problems and solutions and started some new working relationships across the business. Overall, a very good time investment.
Then, I filled in for my boss in a meeting.
My boss was on vacation, and I attended a strategic planning meeting in his place, with several of his peers and my boss’s boss. I got a copy of the handouts about 30 minutes before the meeting, reviewed them and thought “Hmmmnn, what would I be able to add in this meeting?”
The meeting began and I quickly saw that this was one of the “meetings before THE meeting”. The purpose was to share information with some of the execs before the big meeting with the CEO scheduled for the next day. This way, there were no surprises and the execs could prepare their thoughts and ideas.
For the first 15 minutes, I did obsess a bit about what I could add and how I was being perceived, but then I changed my mind-set to observing and learning. This made the meeting much more interesting and valuable. There were important, successful leaders in the room… so I focused on what I could take away from this session.
Learning will enable more doing.
Focusing on learning in addition to doing and driving results is not always easy, but it does add extra value to almost all of your day-to-day activities. And.. this incremental learning will fuel and enable more doing in the future.