Chris Argyris’ article entitled, “Teaching Smart People How to Learn” provides an interesting point of view on how smart people often do not know how to learn because they have rarely (if ever) experienced failure, which is a necessary part of the learning process. While reading this article, I began to think about my own experiences with failure and thus learning. Like the consultants mentioned in the study, I am often afraid of failure in my professional and personal life. It is hard to look inward and critique one’s self. The much easier path is to blame other factors/make excuses rather than taking accountability for not meeting deadlines, etc.
This made me think about my recent work experiences and how at times I have gone into defensive mode making excuses rather than just admitting that I didn’t meet the deadline or finish the task for reasons within myself (i.e. poor time management, lack of understanding the task). Even though I know that we can learn valuable lessons from our mistakes, the fear of failure and the embarrassment that is attached to that failure has a tendency to make me defensive when challenged/confronted. I have developed that “brittle” personality that Argyris mentions in this piece.
Going forward throughout this semester and beyond, I would like to challenge myself to learn to accept failure and the growth that will come from this process in my professional and personal life. I will do this by holding myself accountable for my actions rather than placing the blame for my problems outside of myself. Although I know this change will not happen overnight, with determination I can eventually overcome my fear.