Not too long ago I posted “5 Tips to Being a Learning Rebel“; in short these were my points.
- Challenge the status quo.
- Understand the concept of Kaizen.
- Knowing that training, in of itself, is rarely the solution for anything.
- People do not need to know how to build a watch in order to tell time.
- Learning theories and/or methodologies are at best guidelines, at worst snake oil.
While some of these learning experiences were built off the back of hard work and experience, it occurs to me that our best life lessons for being L&D (Learning and Development) Rebels do not fall far from the Robert Fulghum classic, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. Here is a quote I find to be particularly meaningful:
“I believe that imagination is stronger than knowledge. That myth is more potent than history. That dreams are more powerful than facts. That hope always triumphs over experience. That laughter is the only cure for grief. And I believe that love is stronger than death.”
― Robert Fulghum, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten
This is a perfect quote for being a Learning Rebel. Let’s dissect and discuss.
Believe that imagination is stronger than knowledge. Building organizations that have a culture of learning and, most importantly, learning curiosity is not an easy task. I can say with certainty that a culture built on compliance training, presentations with 80 slides of just text/bullets, and lectures in classrooms do not make a learning culture worth bragging about. Are you building innovation and imagination into your learning strategy? No would argue the success of IBM, nor would anyone argue the success of Google; yet it’s clear one organization is more ahead of the innovation curve than the other. My guess is that it’s not because of its stellar anti-sexual discrimination curriculum.
Myth is more potent that history. History tells us a great many things, and it is important we understand and respect history. However, minding history above all else keeps us looking solidly in our rearview mirror. Learning Rebels look forward; rebels are curious about the possibilities. Those reports generated by your Learning Management System? Rearview mirror thinking. Ask yourself, what is beyond the horizon? Brave souls rebelled against the historians who insisted the horizon was the end of the world. Sailors spoke in hushed whispers of the myth that there was something beyond that horizon. What horizon are you blowing past in your quest to prove a myth?
Dreams are more powerful than facts. From the Star Wars character C-3PO – “Sir, the possibility of successfully navigating an asteroid field is approximately 3720 – 1!” From Han Solo – “Never tell me the odds.” Nuff said.
Hope always triumphs over experience. Rebels are on the edge of ideas that are new, exciting, exhilarating. A Rebel’s slow death? Trying to get an innovative learning experience off the ground only to be countered with, “I want to see case studies of where this has been successful first.” Let the death bell toll. It’s like being in a meeting where everyone acknowledges that excitement and innovation is necessary – but equally, silently, knows those two things will never happen. Yeah, you’ve been there and it’s hope that keeps us moving forward.
Laughter is the only cure for grief. As L&D people we have all been in situations that if we didn’t laugh, we’d have concussions from beating our heads against the wall. Grief is working on a project on which you have dedicated and sacrificed, only to find you’re the only one who really cares about it. Grief is finding your budget dollars pulled to support yet another 3D, full color, direct mail piece from Marketing. (Cuz we all know how well those work). All you can do is laugh your way through the LinkedIn jobs section.
Believe that love is stronger than death. I love my work, I adore my career choice. I will not allow some person who has visions of Learning and Development grandeur to kill the passion within me. This is the true mark of a rebel. Corporate USA may deal us a hand full of; HR policies, of short-sighted leadership, of managers believing more in training as punishment than learning for development, all coupled with endless spreadsheets impersonating “big data”. But we continue to rebel against this status-quo, ever striving for learning that is better, smarter, more engaging and making a real difference in business and life.
I’ll leave you with this one last thought from Robert Fulghum. “Live a balanced life – learn some and drink some and draw some and paint some and sing and dance and play and work every day some.” Rebel against the norm, rebel against the status-quo – true creation of a learning culture requires we act like Kindergarteners, looking at what is in front of us with awe, curiosity and wonder.
Don’t give up hope and mostly don’t stop laughing! Now take out your crayons, use all the colors in the box and draw on the walls.
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Shannon Tipton says
Ashley – thank you for your comment. You’re correct, there are some in society or business in general where stepping beyond the horizon is pretty scary. Much safer to stay in the box, do what we’ve always done, or just do what the next guy is doing. The question here is – does your learning culture support curiosity? Does it make you want to reach for the finger paint and just say, “Why the hell not, what’s the worst that could happen?” Let’s get back to that, shall we?
This is a neat article. I love the quote given! It is almost like society doesn’t believe or endorse those things anymore.
Shannon Tipton says
Hi Ashley – thank you for your comments. I think in general we’re asleep at the wheel and it’s time to wake up. The bigger question is what is L&D responsibility here? If we are to be business partners we have to act like one!