Jack Uldrich
Show navigation Hide navigation

Never Let Your Ego Stop You from Unlearning

Posted in Business, Creativity, Culture, General, Quotes

"The most important lessons lay not in what I needed to learn, but in what I first needed to unlearn." Jim Collins

The following quote was taken from this Harvard Business article entitled "Never Let Your Ego Stop You from Learning." I would like to argue that ego is even a bigger deterrent to unlearning. Why? Because once a person or an institution has invested time, effort, energy and money in becoming an established leader or expert in a certain field, it is that much more difficult to unlearn the things that provided this elevated status. This is because it would require the person or institution to admit that their status or expertise was based on a faulty or misguided assumption. This is why brilliant scientists often can't let go of an existing paradigm — even in the face of compelling evidence. To do so would mean invalidating a lifetime's work — and this isn't easy even for the world's smartest and most intelligent people. In fact, it can be more difficult.

My advice: If you are serious about unlearning, you'll need to learn to check your ego at the door. This might not feel comfortable and it may mean you can no longer lay claim to the title of "expert", but it will permit you the ability to enter new and exciting rooms, and quite possibly allow you to make discoveries that will take you to the next level.

2 thoughts on “Never Let Your Ego Stop You from Unlearning”

  1. Lonny Eachus says:

    I know this is not a new post, but I’d like to comment anyway, regarding a phenomenon that is parallel.
    I am a Software Engineer and it is for reasons just such as these that I oppose efforts to “officially certify” programmers in certain areas of the field. In my experience, as soon as an industry establishes a certification program in certain technologies, rigor mortis begins to set in. The industry, and other industries like technical publishers, invest a great deal in supporting the certification measures, and therefore like to maintain the status quo.
    Soon certification alone becomes “good enough” to prove competence in a field. Interns learn only the minimum required to become certified. Further or ongoing learning is considered unnecessary. Due to heavy investment in maintaining the status quo and lack of incentive for change, innovation slows. That field of “expertise” slowly stagnates.
    I have seen this happen with “certification” of PC technicians and in other areas of technology.
    Continuous learning, which begins with unlearning, is necessary for a thriving industry.

  2. Jack Uldrich says:

    Well said. I agree that “certification” is a curse on innovation. I believe this is one reason why many of our so-called institutions of higher learning are so intellectually stagnant.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Interested in having Jack speak at your next event?
Invite Jack to Speak


Subscribe to the Exponential Executive Newsletter now!