Are learning opportunities buried treasure or ships passing in the night?
When an event happens and you see something important in the aftermath, a possible chance to learn:
- Is it equally visible to everyone?
- If not, how many questions do you ask in order to get others to see it?
- Is it as effective (or a learning moment at all) if you lead them straight to what you see?
- How long can you spend asking questions and nudging people before the opportunity is gone?
I’m starting to suspect that learning moments, the real “Ah ha!” moments, have an expiration date. At least the effectiveness of the “Ah ha!” is attenuated the further you get from the experience. They become “Oh, right. Like last week?” or worse yet dull to “I think I’ve done this before…”
I’ve found my self in the very draining situation of thinking I see a learning moment and everyone is content to walk past. I feel like I’m standing with a metal detector that’s pinging so loudly that I’m shocked no one else hears it. I want, more than anything, for those around me to dig and discover with me what lies beneath the surface. There’s treasure here: knowledge.
While highly valuable, I don’t think “Ah ha!” moments are like treasure waiting to be found at any time. Instead they are something that can be observed while passing by in close proximity. Luckily, if missed the first time, I suspect most of us will make repeat passes and eventually learn by slowing down to observe.
What about in groups? Being apart of a group will take you places you could not have been alone, but if the whole group does not coordinate slowing down to observe the “Ah ha!” moment, what happens? If someone happens to slow down and study what they see, but don’t get the attention of the rest of us, do we miss out by hurrying them along?
Most likely, I have setup a false dichotomy. The question at the top creates an unfair choice when most situations will land on a spectrum. I imagine there are plenty of scenarios where lessons learned can be shared or unearthed together with less loss relative to time discovered. On the other hand, there is no substitute for touching a hot stove.
For now, I think I will continue to share when I think I’ve found something, trying not to be too annoying. I will also make a conscious effort not to rush others past what they see. Instead, create a safe space for them to slow down and observe.