Learning is very easy sometimes. We get in a good zone, something peaks our interest and we start to soak up new information. Or we get a promotion and we have excitement and a bit of fear and we set off to get knowledge at a ravishing pace. I refer to these "ups" as cycles of aggressive learning.
A cycle of aggressive learning is a good thing. When one comes around, be sure to maximize it. Take in all of the new knowledge you can get. It is an accelerated phase and can really boost you, your team and your company forward in a big way.
On the flip side, we can enter into brief or even extended periods of closed off learning. A particularly tricky example can be when you have an unexpected negative meeting. Say you are out visiting with people in the market outside your company. Someone rubs you the wrong way, says something unflattering about your product or company and you immediately close up. You shut off your ability to learn. This is exactly the wrong thing to do.
When you feel yourself shut down for any reason, you can actually train yourself to look past whatever the emotion is that is causing your automatic response and actually begin to collect very valuable information. Perhaps the person who is rubbing you the wrong way is 90 percent wrong themselves, maybe even 100 percent wrong. Even in that instance you can learn. You can look around the room, read the faces, study the dynamic. You can absorb valuable information in the most charged of environments.
The first thing you want to learn about is yourself. Watch yourself and how you handle difficult situations. If you cannot learn how you naturally react, you will not be able to work on adjusting your responses. Early in my career I was taught a trick along these lines. Essentially, it is the mirror test. Whenever some new information, good or bad, comes through your mind try and hold up an imaginary mirror and ask yourself how you can use the information to improve. Rather than hearing some negative thing and immediately using it against someone or becoming defensive, just let it pass for a moment then look in the mirror to see how much of it may actually apply to you. Take a deep breath and learn.
Doing so you will be less distracted by temporary ups and downs of various meetings and you will begin to travel on a bigger journey of learning. Developing a habit of learning in the ups and the downs is something I have observed of the most successful people I have met. They seem to take in everything around them and use it to become better. I think this is why we love those stories of athletes who overcame major setbacks by adapting and coming out stronger. We inherently know that overcoming is a powerful thing.
I love buying books and learning new things. Even more I love sitting in a room with people and learning about our company, our products, our customers, the market and how we can get better. Try it out. Money back guarantee on this one.