Learn - Unlearn - Relearn

25 Sep 2020 ⏱️ 5 min
Learn - Unlearn - Relearn

“The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.” - Alvin Toffler

This brilliant quote kinda summarises the concept of learning in the right manner which helps you grow. Our world is changing at an incredible pace. Every other day you listen to some ground-breaking startup, that new productivity tool, a new social media platform, that amazing car, or even Elon’s rocket taking us to another planet.

Well, you must be thinking -

“Yeah, right! I know all that, tell me something new, exciting. Come on, teach me something new!”

Ok then! In a single line - “Learn what you need, unlearn what you don’t, relearn time to time”.

World is changing, are you?

In today’s world, people just want to consume more and more content. Whether it’s Twitter, Youtube, or any other resource, people just want to know more, watch more, learn more. It is indeed a good behavior to learn something new every day. But, what people forget is that they are also learning a bunch of stuff which is actually not relevant to you (or maybe it was until a few months back). Not everything you see on the internet is good for you. You need to unlearn the extra clutter and relearn how it works in the new world.

Ask yourself, is this thing relevant now? Is this helping me in some way? Most importantly, is this learning even valid now or has there been some new innovation/techniques/information in this domain?

For example - 5 years back, people used notepad/docs/pen-paper to make notes. See if that’s the best approach for you even now? There are these new productivity tools like Notion, Roam, etc. Are you aware of them or have you tried, will these improve your productivity? Will these help you spend less time in finding one of those old notes of yours? Yes, many people even now use pen-paper/docs which is completely fine, but you need to know what works for you and is there a way to improve in that?

As the world is changing, you are changing, your learnings should also change over time!

Learn to unlearn

Unlearning is simply a process of exploring and finding things that we learned earlier and see if they are no more relevant and effective. If yes, then deleting all the unnecessary information to make space for new things.

You need to declutter irrelevant information/learnings so that you can focus better on new learnings. You can’t remember everything, we need to optimize knowledge in a way that it grows in the right direction (towards the goal we want to achieve).

“To attain knowledge, add things every day. To attain wisdom, remove things every day.” - Lao Tzu

If your cup is already full, how will you consume the new ideas! Just like you change your mobile phones every year or clean up your drawers quarterly, why not bring a change and clear you mind to remove things you learned which are no more of use to you.

Unlearning helps you explore new skills, experiences, behaviors, and knowledge. This can be clearly noticed in the professional world. Employees who find opportunities in changing environments and act upon them make great progress. Remember how you did things differently (meetings/ IPMs/ standup/ code) at your last company, but now you unlearn some of the old stuff to adapt to your new company. It is not true that every new thing you learn is the best! You need to find what works for you and stay updated!

Unlearning is difficult! When something contradicts your current knowledge or understanding, you are most likely to dismiss it. Let’s see some of the ways to unlearn things.

Ways of unlearning

  • Question everything you know. Curiosity is what leads to new findings. It helps you unlearn the wrong facts and replace them with new ones.
  • Explore more resources and connect with new people. If you are consuming data from the same sources, you’ll only learn what they know. Be a child who is open to learning from new sources. This is quite similar to diversifying your investments to more than 1-2 stocks. (But remember, don’t get over-flooded with these sources!)
  • Revisit what you learned (say last year). Go back to your notes, see if you improved, if not - ask why? Find how you can do better! Set Goals (OKRs) to unlearn and relearn.

It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.” - Darwin


Never stop learning!

Once you unlearn, the next step is the same as the first. Go back to basics and relearn. One important thing is to overcome the bias based on your prior knowledge.

There is an abundance of information on the internet today. When you relearn, do enough research and find the best resources before you actually start learning. Twitter and Substack are two amazing places to learn new stuff and connect with awesome people.

Even the KonMari checklist explores the same concept of Unlearn - Relearn!

  • Make the commitment
  • Consider how tidying up might change your life
  • Get rid of items first
  • Think category, not location
  • Follow the checklist order
  • Find joy

Be agile, flexible, and adaptable. Unlearn and Relearn!

I hope you learned something new. Feel free to suggest improvements ✔️

I share regular updates and resources on Twitter. Let’s connect!

Keep exploring 🔎 Keep learning 🚀

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