Learning to unlearn

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Future PR, Trust

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I am unashamedly a life-long learner. There is something new to learn every day and I have always been grateful that I work in a sector where change is the norm, things develop at pace and minds must be kept open in order to give best advice. But that doesn’t mean it is easy.

My new best friends – pictured above – have been extremely supportive over the last few (difficult) weeks as I have had to learn to walk again. Unlearning something that has been an instinctive part of your life for decades is no easy thing. Again, my gratitude is immense for the skill and knowledge of the surgeons and doctors but rehabilitation is hard – mostly because of the ‘unlearning’ then ‘relearning’ that’s required. 

As I’ve been forced to take things slowly I’ve been contemplating what other things we should consider relearning even when the thought of doing so seems impossible. The pandemic has led to all sorts of calls for change – we’ve had building back better, we’ve had building back to normal – the noise has been immense and not necessarily constructive. What if, instead of trying to make things as they once were, we took the opportunity to reinvent things completely? We unlearned the behaviours that led to so much inequity? We unlearned the bad communication behaviours and instead, learnt to move forward with greater compassion and care for our fellow humans?Sadly, there isn’t much evidence of unlearning going on in the world at the moment and the entrenched behaviours designed to support power and wealth persist – as always to the detriment of the majority. Running a learning organisation, I’ve taken this opportunity – as I relearn to walk – to consider and study the areas of our profession we should unlearn so we can equip ourselves to make real progress in the future.

Sometimes we have to stop before we can truly start again.