Learning requires us to experience what we do not already comprehend. In the workplace, we naturally learn in small increments as we fulfil our roles. However, to create a shift in learning and ability often requires us to stretch our known skills into the unknown.
Taking on such a challenge requires support, trust, encouragement and a willingness to take that step into the unknown. Often the best results come when that journey is shared.
Learning is a shared journey
Throughout our childhood we were constantly stretched by our parents and teachers. Whether it was being encouraged to take our first steps, reading more difficult stories or achieving higher grades.
Although it was our own knowledge and abilities that were being stretched, the challenge was shared with those responsible for overseeing our development. Sometimes this challenge was a joyful exploration. Other times we resisted and were encouraged, cajoled or pushed into stretching ourselves.
When we didn't have this support we felt it and probably didn't succeed as easily if at all.
Now we are adults we are more responsible and independent in our actions. However, we often forget that our learning has been a product of shared journeys with people we trust, stretching and challenging us along the way.
I know from my own experience as well as my work as a coach the impact such support can have when being asked to perform a new role or take on a stretching objective.
Prepare to Stretch Yourself
If we know what has worked throughout the most intensive period of learning in our lives (our childhood) then shouldn't that guide how we prepare ourselves in the workplace?
As a manager stretching your team are you prepared to share that journey and stretch yourself? How will you provide the necessary encouragement, coaching or motivation that may be required? How will you respond when someone tries but fails? How will you celebrate their achievements?
As an individual being stretched, how are you preparing yourself? Who will provide you with the support you need? How do you see this opportunity to learn? With support, how committed are you to the challenge?
Prepare to stretch yourself or others by ensuring it is a shared experience where support is abundant and judgement is not. Just look at how much we've achieved through being stretched in this way in the past. Why should it be any different now?