How do you Learn?

Three approaches to learning: thinking, watching, and doing.

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How do you learn? There are three approaches to learning: thinking, watching, and doing. 

Thinking or analyzing means you approach new things by reading the manual, watching videos, doing the research, talking with people who “know” already, observing others and once you’ve got a better comprehension of all that is involved, then you act. Your tolerance for making mistakes is low. 

Watching involves approaching new things with some research, but you’d prefer to watch those who’ve mastered what you’re learning and adopt what you like and don’t to your method or approach. Your tolerance for making mistakes is medium. 

Doers, like me, are active or experiential learners. We approach things with a minimal amount of information (may or may not read the instructions other than if they’re short preferably with pictures) and we’d rather make mistakes while in action. We hit the wall and go face first into a hard learning curve resulting in what begins to be competence. We learn while doing and our tolerance for making mistakes is high. 

When you judge others for how they learn, you eclipse what helps them advance or hinder the process. Think about misjudging this for onboarding, learning new technology or anything with your teams. We all approach it differently and can learn together only when we communicate what we need.  

This is why we need the thinkers, watchers and doers. Depending on timelines, your style may move you, your team or your company forward at the right pace at the right time. 2020 was a year for doers – comfort with the high pace of change left little time to think or watch as we’d never done many of the things we did. What did you learn from that which will make 2021 better?  

For more from Sue Hawkes, go to

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