Do you make these mistakes in learning?

Jun 10, 2008 by

“I want pay increase!” I was asking for some pay increment. The statement is not that direct, but I did request that from my boss. I am confident enough on the experience that I have gained from the past one year on my previous job. I have also taken few IT certifications that I thought will give me the right to get the increment. I have learned a lot… so I believed I am eligible for that.

I was wrong…
Yes, I was wrong. My request was rejected. Or rather, it was postponed for further evaluation. I have told the story before that the process taught me about patience. But more than that, the process taught me about learning.

This blog has shared a lot about being teachable, to learn and to have an open-mind attitude. It is important topic to talk about. Each of us has to be a learner throughout our life. Learning is like climbing the stairs. Learning allows you to go to the top, to see and to know more things. But unfortunately, some made mistakes with learning, they forgot that it’s the means rather than the destination. Those are the lies of learning that are able to endanger you.

And those are the mindset that I wanted to share in this article…

1) Learning for money

I was wrong when I valued my contribution based on the knowledge that I gained, and I asked for the pay increase for that. Learning is useful, but the money you earned based on the value that you bring out, the results you produce. “Eternal student” is one of the counterfeits of learning that Stephen M. R. Covey shared in his book, The Speed of Trust. It is the person who is always learning but never producing. Being an “eternal student” and even more asking for more money just because you learn is just not appropriate.

This is particularly one reason why my request above is rejected. My boss would like to evaluate me on the values that I bring to the company, and those are the ones that will determine whether they will meet my request or not. I was given a leadership opportunity and I was asked to manage a product development to deliver them on schedule. And from that opportunity I got to learn the second misconception on learning from my manager.

Resource: Scott H. Young shared an article, Don’t Pay Yourself by the Hour. It shared with you the mindset why you should consider yourself being paid for your results and not hours. It doesn’t matter whether you are salaried employees, salesmen or businessmen and women. Whoever we are, we can start having a mindset of result-driven attitude. It’s not based on the hour we work, neither the amount of knowledge we have. Our earning should reflect our value that we bring to people.

2) Learning for satisfaction

While the challenge is given to me, I was being warned on the big responsibility that I will have. It was just like I own my own company. I have the project in my hand, I have to solve any problems that may come out and I need to deliver on time. I was quite worried. It was my first experience and I would be evaluated based on that performance to get my pay increase.

As my request was rejected, I asked for a sponsored class to learn more about project management. I told them that it’s necessary to equip me with some knowledge that will be helpful for the responsibility. I was quite relentless on the subject and I told my manager that it’s really what I needed. I told him that it was important for the evaluation I have to go through the next 3 months and I did not want to fail.

It’s the point when my manager asked me back, “Are you the last kid in the family?” He was wrong, I am the only son in the family, but he was right in one point; that I used to be a spoiled kid.

The “spoiled kid” symptom
I’m really surprised when he asked me back that question. But I learned something important that day, that unconsciously I desired the opportunity of learning for my own satisfaction. It was the habit of laying back to the lie that I have to learn and to know something very well before I am willing to do it.

Do you often experience that as well? It is the lie that we have to be perfect, that we have to know the right way, and we better not making mistakes. It’s also the excuse we made to keep on preparing and learning while what we need sometimes is just doing it.

Click to read the articles inspired from the book

Rich people see an opportunity, jump on it, and get even richer. As for poor people? They’re still “preparing”!
~T. Harv Eker (Secrets of the Millionaire Mind)

Resource: An article from Evan Hadkins, How to Deal with Your Perfectionism. One statement from the article, “Dealing with perfectionism means dealing with our dissatisfaction.” Sometimes, our desire to learn is particularly only to fulfill our own satisfaction. You need to be aware of this lie in learning.

3) Learning for judgment

I have just finished reading the book that has become very popular in blogosphere for quite some time. It’s the Getting Things Done by David Allen. One particular insight that surprised me is the fact that many bright people are procrastinators. I found that it is very true. Those are the most creative, sensitive and intelligent people, yet their knowledge have become the boomerang that hurt them back.

Because their sensitivity gives them the capability of producing in their minds lurid nightmare scenarios about what might be involved in doing the project, and all the negative consequences that might occur if it weren’t done perfectly! They just freak out in an instant and quit!
~David Allen (Getting Things Done)

Knowledge is both helpful and dangerous for creativity. Creativity needs knowledge, yet too much knowledge will kill creativity as well. That is one particular trap of learning.

Do you lose your baby-hood?
My previous article, How failures can make you smile got an interesting comment from Mary Jaksch at Goodlife Zen. She shared that our sensitivity has made us afraid to go to the edge and make some action. And her statement here is very interesting… “Babies know that well, but we forget.

We have forgotten our baby-hood because it was cluttered with all the knowledge that makes us very sensitive and afraid to make actions. As kids, we dare to dream big things, but is it still the same when we are adults?

Resource: An article from Jonathan Mead, sharing that knowledge has become a double edged sword. “The power or knowledge is the power of judgment. Its power is also its weakness.” Part of us will play the role as judge, while the other as victim. Jonathan continued to share on how we can tame the beast of knowledge in the next article in the series… The Biggest Lie; the Lie of Our Imperfection.

4) Learning for justification

The people I distrust most are those who want to improve our lives but only have one course of action.
~Frank Herbert

Click to read the articles inspired from the bookThis is the observation that Stephen M. R. Covey made while he mentioned about another counterfeits of learning. It shows that how often we learned but we do not change our value and action. In his word, “it’s trying to force-fit everything into whatever you’re good at doing.”

Learning can be a trap if we learn only to justify the mindset that we already have. It’s a great way to justify our “laziness” to change. It’s the time when we pick up selective lessons. We take one side, and act as if the other side of the story does not exist. That’s the symptom where you start learning only to justify your behavior.

Resource: Another thoughtful article from Scott H. Young, The Value of Independence, sharing the trip that we need to take in learning. That is building our intellectual independence through poverty. Sometimes, we just need to start afresh before we learn. Quoted from the article…

Intellectual independence requires a similar trip through poverty. Instead of giving up finances or friends, you give up knowledge. Intellectual independence means temporarily putting yourself in a position of doubt. You become agnostic about almost everything as you re-evaluate your beliefs.
~Scott H. Young

The real learning

Learning is great! We all need that, but learning is only part of the equation. What is the purpose after learning? What we have to produce and work on in our life after learning? What is the next action afterwards? And more importantly, what are the changes that we need to make after learning?

These are the two components what real learning comprises of…

What we really needed is our confidence to the truth that we believe in, not our judgmental opinion in our head. This confidence also signifies courage not to be afraid to make mistakes and learn from them. Because if we are afraid of failing, means that we are afraid to live.

There is a particular quote I read from Young Urban Professional, sharing a quote about a person who advances confidently in the direction of his dreams.

In proportion as he simplifies his life, the laws of the universe will appear less complex, and solitude will not be solitude, nor poverty poverty, nor weakness weakness.
~Henry David Thoreau (quoted in A Leader Becomes a Leader)

What amazes me from the quote is that simplicity matters. And we do not have to believe the lie of our weakness and imperfection.

Intelligence doesn’t mean anything if we are not willing to do it.

In making decisions of a spiritual nature, the battlefield is not the intellect, but the will.
~Dwight Hill (Facts of the Matter)

I think it’s not only true on our spiritual nature, our everyday lives is the battle of the will. The will also signifies the discipline that we have to take, habit that we have to form to apply what we have learned in our everyday lives.

The last resource I’d like to share is an audio Podcast from Mwangi from The Displaced African titled Stop Reading and Thinking! Do Something Instead.

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For your success,

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  1. I enjoyed your presentation Robert. I found your reference to the “eternal student” spoken about by Stephen Covey particularly thought provoking.

    Bamboo Forests last blog post..Act as If You’ve been Succeeding and You will Succeed

  2. Great post Robert,
    interesting subject!


  3. Robert! That was a huge post!

    I’d like to differ from the part about knowledge stifles creativity.

    Let’s look at that in this manner where the more knowledge we have we too would be challenging ourselves to be more creative and present / re-presenting ideas in fresher ways or forming new sentence structures with the integrity of the ideas still intact.

    And when we decided to take up our own challenge, we would be already in the best position to do something and do it good! That too is when the “stop reading and thinking, and doing something now” applies.

    I’m sure you are one of the people I know who is already doing that. 🙂


  4. Robert A.

    @Bamboo and Alex,
    Thanks guys, great to know that you enjoy the article. This is particularly talk about doing more than just learning.

    I may not write it clearly, but what I’m mentioning here is beyond just writing. But rather, the pessimism that things will not work out because of our knowledge.

    We rather go, explore, and find out how is the best we can do, but we shouldn’t kill creativity from the start. As you said, we might even be able to find a way that settle everything and meet up all other expectation.


  5. Let me give you two quotations – one serious and one with tongue firmly in cheek!

    “Mankind have a great aversion to intellectual labor; but even supposing knowledge to be easily attainable, more people would be content to be ignorant than would take even a little trouble to acquire it.”—-Samuel Johnson

    “Always acknowledge a fault. This will throw those in authority off their guard and give you an opportunity to commit more.”—–Mark Twain

    Nicole Prices last blog post..Watches: Discounts and Novelties

  6. Robert A.

    Hi Nicole, thanks for the two quotes. I especially like the second one on admitting your fault.
    Really appreciate them! =)

  7. I too enjoy Harv Ecker… “Dealing with perfectionism means dealing with our dissatisfaction.” Great quote. We’ll all Keep Learning!

  8. You’re awesome, Robert.

    Maybe the Law of Attraction is useful in this case.

    Visualize the pay raise or better still the end result such as what you want to do with the money.

    perhaps you’ll get it in another form (e.g. passive income)

    Heaven knows the best way. 🙂

    Raymond Chuas last blog post..Setting A Deadline Is Not A Good Thing

  9. Heaven always does. So do you if you anticipate properly, and I think that is the point of this whole post.

    Nicole Prices last blog post..Lighting Up The House

  10. Let me put it in another way. There is something called the optimism of the past. This is all the time thinking “If only that had happened, etc”. This is counterproductive and completely based on knowledge. Creating cannot take place from any kind of past which is what knowledge is. Creating has to be spontaneous to be effective.

    Nicole Prices last blog post..Lighting Up The House

  11. Robert A.

    Thanks Raymond and Nicole,
    actually the story I mentioned is few months back. I’ve been evaluated and the result is satisfying. Along the way, many miracles do happen, especially how my interest in blogging found to be useful in my work. That is really helpful in the process.

    When we really follow our heart and passion, God somehow opens the way. He really know what’s the best for us. Everything seems to work, into a bigger picture, we may not understand it yet. If we believe, it will end well!


  12. Robert A.

    It’s really interesting the way you put it. “Creating has to be spontaneous to be effective”
    I read from Scott H. Young before that there can be 2 flows on brainstorming, one is creating, the other one is streamlining. Don’t mix the two, and you really need to be spontaneous while creating, put the pessimism, cutting and streamlining on hold for the moment.

    Dare to be creative!

  13. Yeah, the quote is very interesting. 🙂

    Raymond Chuas last blog post..Where Have I Been?

  14. That’s interesting.

    May I know how blogging help you in your job?

    Perhaps I have overseen something. 🙂

    Raymond Chuas last blog post..Where Have I Been?

  15. There is the story of the barber who tells his customer that he does not believe in God and to prove that, he tells the customer to go out in the streets and see how many poor people there are. If God existed, he says, that poor people and suffering will not be there. The customer keeps quiet because the topic is controversial. After he finishes with his hair cut he goes out and returns to the barber and says that he does not believe in barbers. The barber laughs and says what nonsense is this? You came to me, I cut your hair. The customer says, I went out to the street as you told me to and found a lot of people with long hair and beards so how can there be a barber? The barber says, if they come to me, they too will get a hair cut and beard trim like you did. The customer says, if you go to God he too will be available, but if you loaf around why should he bother?

  16. Robert A.

    Hi Raymond, it’s especially about my knowledge in social media. The knowledge is useful with a recent development plan in my company. That helps me to share more ideas and my knowledge there. I was never thought of that, but unexpectedly, it’s useful for it!

    Thanks for asking =)

  17. Robert A.

    Hi Nicole, thanks for sharing the story. I believe you also believe in God, don’t you? Many think that God is all about religion, but it’s more about relationship.


  18. This is very interesting, Nicole.

    Only the action takers reap the reward. 🙂

    Raymond Chuas last blog post..Where Have I Been?

  19. Tia

    Great post, Robert.
    Then how if someone thinks that his brain won’t be able to load too much, so he doesn’t want to read a lot, to know much and to learn more. It is like swimming in an ocean without knowing how to reach the beach. Is he a coward?

  20. Robert A Henru

    Hi Tia, i think people can learn from various ways, I prefer not to call him a coward, but maybe what is important is the attitude, is he having a teachable attitude? If he does, then he can learn from various ways or people that he meet in his life…

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