Unlearn and Relearn: The Essential New Skill for High Performing Teams

If you work in an industry that is having difficulty with large amounts of external forced changes such as Federal Regulatory modifications, you certainly understand the resistance that change cultivates. And I would postulate that as a leader (whether you lead yourself as one or many), when faced with these challenges first examined your own attitude toward change before the resistance to change turned into acceptance.

When we don’t agree with changes, our attitude towards the change itself produces resistance. Period. I’m not asking you to embrace all changes, but to observe your steps when you transmute resistance into acceptance. The awareness is worth noting. Another observation I will ask you to make is to carefully observe your teams with the same kind of deliberate awareness. Observing others is best done without asking and without influence. It’s always hard for team members to tell the leader the truth anyway. Hence, just simply start to observe. Exceptional leaders, do this instinctively or were taught.

And why is observation so powerful? We are the only creature on the planet that have the capacity to be aware of our awareness. You don’t even need an engagement survey to truly observe. Your engagement survey just backs up the information. And one of the key conclusion that you no doubt already know is that forced change creates bad attitudes. They just go hand and hand. But the key point I want to make is resiliency to change is how fast resistance turns into acceptance. In other words, how fast can we turn our bad attitude into a positive one?


When is the last time you really studied attitude? We throw the word around and I know we sincerely believe that we understand it, but if I asked 95% of the people reading this, could they really define it I don’t think they could.

As a 6th grader, I received a D in attitude. Up until then, I was typically an A and B student, so a D was really shocking and disappointing. I distinctly recall the feeling of confusion when, I asked my teacher the specifics of how to improve my attitude. It because even more confusing because all my teacher wasn’t able to explain behavior in a way that I understood what was expected. But what behavior? We weren’t talking about acting up or excessive talking more. The more I asked the more confused and frustrating it became. Even my own Mother who was a teacher had no satisfactory specifics. They meant well, but they simply didn’t know what attitude meant.

Can you imagine decades later how shocked and surprised I was to find out what attitude really meant. As a “Thinking Into Results” consultant, it would be hypocritical of me not to study and fully understand this concept and it is the studying that brought me to two very important outcomes that I want to share with you. First, I finally had a satisfactory answer about why my teachers could not explain attitude to me and secondly, I discovered the invaluable skill of unlearning and relearning.

First things first. Let me answer what is attitude. Attitude is the composite of thoughts, feelings and actions; and it is important to understand each component before combining them to make attitude.

Let’s look at thought which is the first component and the primary focus. Thought or thinking is the component that school doesn’t teach. We mistake mental activity for thinking all the time. What school teaches us is what to think, usually memorizing certain content. But not how to think, And all great leaders past and present may disagree on practically everything, the one thing they do agree upon is we are what we think.

Remember, what I said early that we are the only creatures on the planet that have the ability to observe observing ourselves? Well, this is true thinking. Mental activity through our senses is probably shared by all the creatures on the planet. But true thinking comes from within. I’m not a scientist not a neuroscientist, but I do understand that we have been given the abilities to studying ourselves and that it is unique to all the other creatures on the planet. And since this is our unique nature wouldn’t it make sense to develop and pursue this internal world far beyond where we are right now?

Creativity is born out of thinking and we are creating a world of super rapid change, exponentially faster each year. Which brings us to the 2nd concept. Unlearning and relearning is a skill and one that we must put into use every day and it is our ability to keep up with this rapidly changing world through this skill of unlearning and relearning. Not necessarily through the education system, but through the process of thinking.

Alvin Toffler said the “Tomorrow’s illiterate will not be the man who can’t read; he will be the man who has not learned how to unlearn.”

Where are you on the unlearn and relearn scale? Do you see the importance of examining the attitude of change? Do you see how this skill is going to set you apart from really keeping your team in the game? It doesn’t matter if you agree with me or not, “resistance is futile” meme is the new thinking coupled with a positive attitude, equals leading your team to victory.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *