208 seconds. That’s the total amount of time that Captain Sully had to decide what to do when the plane he was flying needed to make an emergency landing.
Not even four full minutes.
During that time he had to figure out his options. What was and wasn’t possible.
It was a combination of experimentation, experience, and humility. Namely, a learning mindset. It was a learning mindset that saved him and the rest of the crew and passengers.
Whereas experience can sometimes be problematic, says social scientist Francesca Gino, he asked what could he learn, and what could be different.
Ironically experience can sometimes get in the way of learning.
Gino quotes a scary piece of research, where cardiologists were told a procedure they were doing could harm patients. The more experienced the cardiologist, the less likely they were to listen. Yikes!
Our expertise can be a barrier to learning. To changing and growing.
As experts, it can be hard for us to remember what it’s like to be a beginner, yet that very mindset, a learning mindset, can be enormously helpful.
As the Heath brothers put it, it’s hard to ‘unring’ a bell. Namely, once the bell has rung, once we know something well, we can’t unring the bell or remember what it was like to be a beginner.
There are simple things we can do to adopt a learning mindset though
- Invite an ‘outsider’ – bring together people who don’t know about your area of subject matter expertise and see what they have to offer. The assumptions that they can uncover that your experienced mind is overlooking might surprise you for example.
- Learn from those who disagree with you – bring together people who have a completely different perspective than you and open your mind to learning. Listen for insights. Don’t get distracted by defending your opinions.
- Activate your inner nonconformist – Gino conducted an intriguing experiment. She wore two different pairs of shoes to the same class on back-to-back days with different students. The first pair was a regular pair of shoes, while the second pair was a bright red pair of runners. When she asked the participants for feedback, the executives she was teaching reported thinking she had more influence at Harvard Business School, published more, etc. “What the survey results showed is that they had higher respect – they thought of me as a more influential person when I taught them the same content just wearing red sneakers.”
- Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Turns out that making yourself vulnerable generates respect. Authenticity is contagious.
A learning mindset can dramatically save lives, as with Captain Sully’s case, but you don’t need to add drama to benefit. Get motivated and seek out the benefits of a learning mindset by inviting outsiders into your space, learning from those who disagree with you, activating your inner nonconformist, and getting comfortable with being uncomfortable. Bright red runners are recommended but ultimately optional.
Now go on and learn, laugh and lead
- Listen to the full Hidden Brain podcast (that I used to research this post) and/or read the transcript here.
- Teslas automatically film people who get close to the car. A band took advantage of that feature and performed in front of many Teslas. They left a note on the cars saying what they were doing and encouraged people to send in the footage. Here’s the incredible result. Talk about a learning mindset, in this case, literally inviting outsiders to make a music video plus presumably activating their inner nonconformist and presumably being comfortable with being uncomfortable.
- Implement your plan for how you can activate your learning mindset; invite some outsiders, and people who disagree with you, activate your inner nonconformist, and get comfortable with discomfort.
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