What To Do When You Can’t Learn Again

What To Do When You Can’t Learn Again

In October 2018 I read an article on Harvard Business Review that intrigued me enough to write about it.

The article at that time received a very good welcome from my readers (you know I like that ?).

So I was going through my LinkedIn page midnight yesterday and stumbled on it again. I read it all over myself and found it instructive for a time like this.

“As we approach mastery, our learning rate decelerates, & while the ability to do something automatically implies competence, it also means our brains are now producing less of the feel-good neurotransmitters — the thrill ride is over.”

That sense of ennui eventually leads to a lack of motivation and, in some cases, poor performance. If you can instead shift your attention to mastering new skills — aka “jumping the S-curve — then you can continually stay engaged and make work much more enjoyable..”

That was the quote I came across as I was reading the article on HBR. It left me puzzled because the title of the article was “When to Turn Down a Lucrative Opportunity” and I was expecting entirely something different.

However, it made me realize that both as an individual and corporate entity, we get to a point in life when we need to change our direction, not because where we earlier faced was wrong, but because we don’t find it as exciting as we used to again. In short, we need to “jump our s-curve,” we have stopped learning, nothing new again.

As seen in the above image, we all reach maturity (max yield) and when we do as a business or an individual, to avoid diminishing, we need to get a new vibe.

This is where the principle of Kaizen comes in, the commitment to continuous learning, the ability to unlearn, and re-learn in a new topic area.

We’ve seen the world’s billionaires taken this pivot, Bill Gates resorted to ending extreme poverty while Jack Ma from 2019, aims to focus on quality education and all things in between that. And while the Oracle of Omaha still seems to be committed to Berkshire, we have seen a lot of his wealth gone for donations.

As a corporate entity also, you should evolve, the pages of history burn with stories of evolution, and corporations that have succeeded for more than 50 years will surely have stories in this context to tell; J.P. Morgan, IBM, GE, etc.

As an individual, you might not necessarily have the wealth of Bill Gates nor the influence of Barack Obama before you consider taking on a new pivot. The time is always right to take a pivot if you consider yourself to have gotten to the peak of the s-curve and the diminishing effect is setting in.

Learning something new can be difficult and I strongly agree with that but you will agree with me also that you would rather learn something difficult that takes time to achieve than stay on a curve that tends towards infinite decline.

Doing this will help you stay lively again, a new challenge, a new thrill, a new commitment, entirely different from the status quo, the brain is alive and you are waking it up to a new sphere entirely.

Now you have more reasons to burn the midnight candle and more reasons to pay a worthy sacrifice.

And like any adventure one is committed to with diligence and faith, in the long run, it pays off. And of course, it depends on how long your long-run is.

“So as you approach mastery, and your learning rate decelerates, and while the ability to do something automatically implies competence, it also means your brains are now producing less of the feel-good – the thrill ride is over.”

Consider taking on a new pivot and resurrect yourself from the declining curve by learning a new thing that thrills you.

What’s your thought, I would like to know?

Originally written in 2018 here: What To Do When You Can’t Learn Again

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