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How to Adapt to the Speed of Change

By Edward D. Hess
  • Read in 13 minutes
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  • Contains 8 key ideas
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Hyper-Learning by Edward D. Hess

Hyper-Learning (2020) shows you how to adapt to a rapidly changing world in which technology threatens to make many skills redundant. By adopting a growth mindset, becoming less egotistical, and learning to collaborate, you’ll be ready to face the future. 

Key idea 1 of 8

To become a hyper-learner, you first need to quiet your ego.

Picture a mid-morning work presentation. You’re listening to a colleague explain a new idea while standing in front of a whiteboard. After a while, she turns to the room and asks if anyone has any questions. 

You ask one, challenging her idea. Then, politely and carefully, your colleague explains why you’re mistaken. But rather than listening to her answer, all you hear is her disagreeing with you. Inside, you feel embarrassed – even a little angry at being shown up in front of your teammates. 

What’s happening here? Rather than entering into the debate objectively, and accepting that you might be wrong, you’ve let your ego get the better of you. That’s no way to learn. 

The key message here is: To become a hyper-learner, you first need to quiet your ego.

Our egos often get in the way of any real learning. They convince us that we’re always correct – that our way of seeing the world is the right way. When our egos are wounded, we respond negatively. We shut down and act irrationally – even when, deep down, we know we might be wrong.

So the first step to becoming a strong learner is quieting the ego. It’s only when we can look at the world with humility, without our ego clamoring for attention, that we can see things clearly. 

Let’s go back to the example of the work presentation, and consider a different approach. Rather than feeling irritated when your point is challenged, take some time to listen to the other person’s perspective and reflect on it. Ask her how she came to her conclusion and compare it to your own reasoning. Then, in a spirit of collaboration, calmly agree or disagree. But whatever you do, don’t identify with your ideas. You are not your ideas. The whole point of honest debate is to discover a better idea – together.

Freeing yourself from your ego requires you to redefine your identity. Maybe you've earned a PhD, or others have labeled you as "smart." While you can be proud of your accomplishments, viewing yourself as the best won't help you see the world from a new or contrasting perspective. Instead of resting on your past achievements, you should learn to define yourself by the quality of your thinking, listening, relating and collaborating. It’s only then that you’ll truly be able to learn.

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