It is said that the best way to learn is through experience. I believe that’s true. But I also believe that not everyone learns from every experience. It’s possible to have an amazing event in your work or life and immediately move on to the next thing and not learn much from it.
How can that be?
The answer is that you might be too busy to think about what happened. Not every experience has a “lesson” associated with it. The secret ingredient to learning from experience is pausing and reflecting. In order to have an experience and make it a part of your thinking, you need to ask some questions about it to analyze what happened. As you do so, you will likely discover the lesson in your experience. But you have to do the work.
Which questions work? What should you ask? I’ve found there are five and the effect is magical.
#1 – What happened? Before the incident escapes your memory, ask yourself what happened. Capture the details. How was the process? who did what Who says what? Get a clear idea of what actually happened.
#2 – Why did it happen this way? If something good happened, what made it so good? You can learn from that. If it was a mistake or a disaster, why did it happen?
#3 – What were the consequences? How bad was it? Think about cause and effect. Thinking about the implications of an action tells you why you might want to take a different approach next time.
#4 – What would you do differently in the future? That’s the “so what” question. If you ever find yourself in this situation again, what lessons did you learn from it? What should you change to get a better result?
#5 – What should you do next? You’ve thought it through, you know what you should have done, but now what? What are your next steps to position yourself successfully?
A wonderful side effect of learning from mistakes is that you can stop worrying about them. Yes, you didn’t do what you planned and the results were bad. But you’ve done the work to learn from your mistake and you’re striving to succeed next time. It changes the way you think about the mistake—and about yourself. With a new intention, you can let go of the bad experience. Thinking about these questions is like self-coaching and will have a positive impact on your self-esteem.
So everyone can deal with these questions and learn from experience.
Or, if you’re a manager, you can help a member of your team think. This type of coaching is one of the most powerful skills of an effective leader. In the best case, a manager would intervene in the coaching role. When something bad happens, the boss asks the magic questions to stimulate the thoughts that lead to learning. This helps the employee find the lessons from within, which is a much more effective way of learning.
At worst, someone who has had a bad experience has a boss who doesn’t tolerate mistakes. Such a boss would react with anger, guilt, and humiliation, creating barriers to learning. With the missed opportunity, the same mistake could happen again.
Managers also learn from mistakes. They can facilitate their own learning by asking the magic questions. Or maybe the manager’s boss knows how to coach her by asking the questions that will help her become a better leader. But whether you’re lucky enough to have a boss who knows how to coach, you should take responsibility for developing your own effective leadership skills. Be your own best coach.
Thanks to Dennis E Coates Ph.D. | #Effective #Leadership #Skills #Learn #Experience #Magic #Questions