Knowledge was power. Today, learning is.
Is there anything that feels better than being right? Be it in a sibling spat or boardroom briefing, knowing the answer and being absolutely certain you are correct imbues a deep sense of confidence. It is even exhilarating: Picture yourself in school when the teacher asked a question and your hand would shoot up. “Pick me, pick me, I know the answer!”
Well, here’s the bad news: Being right all the time is wrong. And being wrong—at least some of the time—is actually the right choice if you want to experience long term success rather than short term victories. The ability to experiment and innovate is predicated on a willingness to fail. And the ability to learn is predicated on embracing the fact that you do not know everything (and that what you knew to be true yesterday may be dead wrong in the business world of tomorrow).
A willingness to fail and understanding the implications of every action and experiment, followed by the ability to learn from these experiences—and all experiences—has never been more important for future success.
The pace of change in business, technology, and pretty much everything shows no signs of slowing. In fact, the companies that were the disrupters just months ago will be ripe for disruption in the very near future. So we must all recognize that the security that our unquestionable knowledge gave us in decades past is little more than false security today.
The tricky part, of course, is embracing the wisdom of being wrong. Where once knowledge was power, today, perpetual learning is vastly more powerful.
As you shift your mindset from the safe, secure, and comfortable role of know-it-all to the champion of open-minded experimentation and innovation, there are a couple of ways you can look at things:
You can focus on the unpleasant reality that you don’t actually have a choice. You must change or become outmoded. Every corner of the world of work is rapidly changing; new technologies are disrupting every job and every industry every day. The very notion of “knowledge” is a moving target as new patterns emerge and old, familiar ones crumble.
On the other hand, you can also think about what the promise of continuous learning offers you. By putting yourself out there, taking risks, and accepting that what you know is no longer a reliable foundation for success, you build a new foundation with more long term stability: You become they type of person whose ability to learn, iterate, and smartly risk-take earmarks them as the new breed of worker—of leader.
And whether your job is in the mailroom, middle management, or the C-suite, leading is what’s wanted in this rapidly transforming world of work. Otherwise, you—and the business you work for, even your industry as a whole—will be left behind.