At the start of an entrepreneur’s journey, when that ‘eureka’ moment occurs and sparks the beginning of an adventure exploring a self-founded idea, the thirst for knowledge and learning is at its peak.

You want to know and learn more, or everything you can to take that idea forward. Once a certain level of success is reached, however, it’s easy to think that one has learnt all they need to, and thus begin to rely on known or established models for their business, rather than seeking to innovate and create new ones.

To continue growing as a leader and entrepreneur, however, unlearning pre-existing ways of doing things in your business is a necessary step to achieving self-growth.

Defining Unlearning

The Cambridge Dictionary defines unlearning as making “an effort to forget your usual way of doing something so that you can learn a new and sometimes better way”.

This goes to say that it’s not about forgetting what you’ve learned as if it’s no longer valuable, but rather, being aware of the need to change a certain way of doing things and altering your techniques, methods or practices for the benefit of personal and business growth.

In the fruitful journey of a serial entrepreneur or long-standing business leader, breaking away from established patterns within your business or even society at large means opening your mind to changing what’s necessary in order to allow yourself to transform and thrive – two ideals that have never been more relevant in the age of COVID-19.

What is its value?

Computer scientist Alan Kay famously said, “In some sense, our ability to open the future will depend not on how well we learn anymore, but on how well we are able to unlearn.”

Given the speed at which technological developments are evolving and the profound changes they have on the way we work and organise ourselves, having the courage to let go of pre-existing concepts and coming up with new ones that benefit your business is commendable, but also necessary.

Having the foresight to reinvent your business or the model its based on in anticipation of new and emerging market trends will go a long way in leading your business towards growth and further success.

How is it done?

Firstly, take the time to understand what could possibly hold you back from making a change. Is it what other people might think of your decisions? Or your deeply ingrained opinions?

Identifying such weaknesses will allow you to consciously put them aside when they arise throughout your unlearning process. It is often said that the first step towards change is indeed awareness – so be aware!

As you undergo this transformative process, remember to be persistent and confident in what you’re working to achieve. It’s a process you might need to experience again in a few years’ time as the world continues to change and evolve, so being adaptable is key, as is having the willingness and openness to change as necessary.

Also, don’t be discouraged if your endeavours are met with resistance or even disdain, especially if you’re looking to bring about change to a long-established business. Change can be hard on everyone, but, in the end, persistence is crucial to achieving success.


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