Almost until I was 37 years old, I tied my shoes “bunny ear” style. That is I would make two giant loops and cross one over the other and tie it into a knot. I did this because that is how I was first taught to tie my shoes when I was four years-old. Oddly, in spite of seeing all of my other classmates tie their shoes in the more traditional method of creating a single loop and then pulling the second strand into a tigther knot, I persisted in this habit for three and a half decades.
More strangely still, I continued in my habit in spite of recognizing that my method was both slower and not nearly as effective. (My shoes became untied at a greater rate than my classmates.) It wasn’t until my own daughter reached “shoe-tying” age that I decided to learn the other method. It took me all of 30 seconds to do so and upon actually experiencing how much superior it was, I immediately instructed daughter in the method.
Now, I know what many of you are thinking: “Well, you’re just an idiot.” This, I admit, might well be true; but ever since unlearning my old method and relearning a new way, I have maintained a file of other instances, examples and stories of people, businesses, organizations and institutions which have had a similar problem of “unlearning” old habits. It has grown quite thick over the last seven years and it seems to be expanding at an accelerating rate.
This blog is dedicated to telling these stories and, in the process, teaching all of us that, often, the first step to acquiring wisdom is to disregard information, processes and habits that are no longer effective. As Mark Twain once wrote, “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.”