“I have some things to learn” should be a regular part of your work life, shouldn’t it?

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“I have some things to learn” should be a regular part of your work life, shouldn’t it?

When we say we are going to work; that we have work to do; we usually mean something like this:  “I have a task that I am working on, and ultimately, will finish.”

But there is so much more to work that just such task completion.

When I speak, I have often said that work is really four things.  We are either:

Thinking about work, or
Planning our work, or
Doing our work, or
Critiquing our work.

And, I make the point that we tend to define work as “doing our work,” and we do not put enough emphasis on the other three.  Especially #1, “Thinking about work,” and #4, “critiquing our work.” (Think: After Action Reviews, from the military world; or watching game videos from the sports world).

There is a current , excellent article by the always insightful Derek Thompson from The Atlantic: Hard Work Isn’t the Point of the Office — The pandemic disrupted soft work—the gossip, eavesdropping, and casual relationship-building that aren’t a formal part of your job In this article, he differentiates between “Hard Work” (close to my idea of “Doing your Work”), and “Soft Work.”  For Mr. Thompson, “Soft Work” is the inventiveness and idea creation and sharing from conversations around the office, especially with folks outside your silo.  (This kind of work, of course, is seriously curtailed in a remote work pandemic era; and that is a real problem).

But maybe there is one more element we should add to this mix.  And that is a learning element. We are:

“Learning about work.”

We have to keep learning.  And companies and organizations that understand this, that allow for it and provide for it and make it happen, will help nurture a learning environment.

When do we need to learn?  A lot of answers come to mind, but here’s one for now:  we need to learn when what we are doing now is either not working well, or about to quit working well.  (Oh, for such foresight).  And, thus, we need to learn what might work better, next; and how to make that happen.

And learning, like other work activities, requires time – time for learning.

So, ask yourself this;  does your organization provide good, frequent, opportunities for learning.  If not…well, they should.


Personal note;  yes, I believe I can help here.  My monthly First Friday Book Synopsis, in its 24th year, is an excellent way to learn the key content of two best-selling business books.  It is fast; fast-paced; content rich.  And, for now, it is available (only) on Zoom.  The first Friday of every month, 7:30 am (CST), just over one hour.  You will get a multi-page, comprehensive synopsis handout for each of the two books I present.  Click here to see the details for the Oct. 1 session. And, sign up for our e-mail list on the home page of this web site.


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