One of the most important skill that highly successful entrepreneurs and leaders have in common is their ability to continue to learn and improve themselves.
This is common knowledge.
They are also extremely busy people. So, in order to continue to sharpen their own saw, they need to figure out ways and means to learning that doesn’t take too much of time and yet is effective and most likely is on-the-job.
Such learning to be effective needs to have three components to it.. I call it the PAR framework.
The process starts with a prediction. Highly successful entrepreneurs and leaders look at everything that is happening around them and try to understand how these things interact with each other and what does that mean for them and their businesses and teams. Based on this, they make certain assumptions and predict what could potentially happen in the future. This could be in any domains.
They could look at the increasing use of contract labor in the workforce and predict that they might be in a situation where they might find it extremely difficult to get highly skilled labor as employees at all.
They could look at the increasing usage of mobile phones and could predict that their in order to succeed in an always connected, always mobile world, the concept of office space needs to be re-thought at.
They could look at the way software is eating up a lot of businesses, they could predict that their product or service faces an imminent threat from the software world.
The idea is that they will look at what is happening around them and make predictions.
Most of us do the first part and predict what could potentially happen, but stop there. The most successful entrepreneurs and leaders don’t just stop there. They take actions based on their predictions. They make bets on their predictions.
They will follow up their predictions, with actions. They choose to criticise by creating.
The important thing is that they recollect what predictions their actions are based on.
It is not sufficient to just take actions. These leaders will also take time to reflect on the effect of their actions and the validity of their predictions.
IT is this process of reflection that truly creates the potential for learning. They can learn from the predictions that turn out to be true and more so from the predictions that they got wrong.
They reflect on not just their predictions and whether they got it right or wrong, but also reflect on their process of arriving at these predictions and what needs to improve in the process itself so that they are always getting better at these predictions that they make.
In a world where, there are a 1000 things that are vying for your attention, where you are busy taking meeting after meeting, where you are furiously typing on your smart phone trying to reply the emails, tweets or the facebook messages, it takes a lot of guts to block time out in your schedule for reflection.
Reflection is becoming more and more a forgotten art. However, it is the corner stone for adult learning and hence critical for all of us who want to get better at anything at all.
Try out this framework in your life in a small way. Before you enter a meeting, try to predict how someone will respond to the topic at hand. Observe their behavior and then immediately after the meeting, spend a couple of minutes to reflect if your prediction was correct and what was the process you used to arrive at the prediction and if there is a way to improve the process.
Let me know of the result of this exercise and we can talk..