A lot of people don’t achieve what they want to achieve in life, not because they can’t, but because they self-sabotage. We can each do this in a number of ways. We can have such a strong internal belief about our strengths and weaknesses (e.g. I have always been good with figures and I’ve never been good with words), that we never give ourselves the chance to learn to do life differently. We come to believe that somehow our brains are wired in such a way as to limit our choices in some areas and expand them in others.

This mindset often begins at school. For instance, if you were seen to be ‘bright’ at school, it meant that within the school system you probably did well, you were academically successful. Those ‘not so bright’ students were more likely to go into the trades.

Much of how we saw ourselves as childhood learners translates into adulthood and so becomes something of a self-fulfilling prophecy in terms of what we can do or learn to do. If you did really well in a ‘chalk and talk’ academic environment, it could mean that you were good at listening, liked information delivered sequentially, didn’t need to be up and active, could follow things logically and enjoyed hearing what the experts had to say. You got good grades at school and, in the final year did well, which in turn opened up for you all possibilities at university. If you did well at school, then you were likely to do well at university.

For those of you who like to be up and moving, animated and having fun, being asked to sit still for more than 10 minutes can become torture (unless the teacher is flamboyant and theatrical in delivery). But put you into a more risky environment, give you elements of a topic but not the full picture, ask you to fill in the gaps, give you a task that is ambiguous and requires some ingenuity on your part, and a willingness to make intuitive leaps and take some level of risk, and you’re fully engaged. You can be every bit as effective as a learner under these conditions, as can the traditional learner under the conditions that nurture their preferences.

It is important for people to understand their learning preferences, principally to understand that all too often the limitations we place on ourselves are ill-founded and, secondly, to be aware that our own preferences may not be the same as others’. As a would-be change-agent, this is critical to your ability to communicate with and influence others.


Learn more about this in chapter 8 of the manifesto.


Learning is an excerpt taken from pp. 264-6 of One World AtLast.


Image courtesy of Grant Cochrane / www.freedigitalphotos.net

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