03 Mar Step into Your Learning Zone to Improve Your Performance
“Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.” – John F. Kennedy
In last week’s eshot, Women In Leadership, Heather Wright highlighted that effective leadership is a direct result of the individual’s continual learning whilst in their role. The most successful leaders improve in their performance because they purposefully practise their skills, develop knowledge and experience, and learn from successful role models.
In his recent Ted Talk, How to get better at the things you care about, Eduardo Briceño, the leader of Mindset Works, explores the two key different zones in our professional and personal lives which we can utilise to achieve our potential: the Performance Zone and the Learning Zone. Briceño explains that our lives are so busy – especially our working lives – that we can be constantly in the Performance Zone and do not give enough time to our Learning Zone.
Whatever the job or task, we want to achieve our best when we are “performing” – whether this is teaching, doing a presentation, writing a report, leading a sales pitch, completing a project, or even neurosurgery. We need to be confident in our knowledge and abilities so that we can deliver our best in such a high stakes environment.
Therefore, as Briceño explains, we need to dedicate space and time in our lives – and on our Life List – for The Learning Zone when we can develop our expertise, skills and experience, and be able to make mistakes to learn from in a low stakes environment.
The key strategies of an effective Learning Zone are:
Have a growth mind set – believe that you will improve and changing your behaviour to improve: As you have learned on our Peak Performance and Leadership courses, the key to improvement and achieving potential starts with changing our core beliefs and behaviour.
Briceño’s co-founder at Mindset Works, leading psychologist Carol Dweck and her research team, discovered that people with a strong growth mindset are more successful in learning and changing their behaviour than individuals who have a fixed mindset. In her Ted Talk, The Power of Believing You Can Improve, Dweck illustrates the research with the neurological results that dendrites are created and strengthened in the brains of individuals with a strong mindset.
Deliberate Practice: Dr Anders Ericsson from Florida State University has pursued many years of research into the correlation between Deliberate Practice and success. (Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hours is based on Ericsson’s research). This includes determined practice of a skill outside our comfort zone, reviewing and gaining feedback from a coach or mentor. Eriksson explains that the most successful individuals in an area of expertise do not just practise what they CAN do, but challenge themselves on practising the skills they have not yet mastered.
By visualising the achievement of a goal successfully – being the best we can be, we are again building and strengthening our dendrites. Research has proved our brain’s connections are strengthened just the same through visualising an experience as actually participating in the experience.
So deliberate practice – and visualising the practice equals success.
Learning from Role Models: Our Advance Leadership programmes explore the importance of learning from role models who are performing at their best in any given expertise – by observing, learning, being mentored, practising and gaining the valuable feedback, we can learn skills and knowledge which can enable our own performances. We can also learn which behaviours that may not work for our personalities so we can discard them.
Being in the Learning Zone enables us to step out of our comfort zone and practise new skills; it gives us time to evaluate and learn from “failures” in a low stakes environment so that we can perform at our best in any high stakes environment – when it really matters.
Further reading and information:
Our previous eshot on Carol Dweck’s research: Mindset: The Power of Believing You Can Improve