It takes three things to be successful. Let’s concentrate on just one, trainability—the ability to assimilate new information, test it in your world, and learn what works and what doesn’t, on the fly, so you can use these newly learned skills, immediately, and for as long as they are effective. Sounds easy enough, right? Do most people do it? Do most do it well? The answer to all three questions is a resounding NO!

First, most people don’t really want to change or to have things change around them. Why? Change is difficult. Change is frightening. Change makes us feel uncomfortable and insecure. Unfortunately for us, life is unstable, insecure, risky, and frightening. There’s just no getting away from that. However, if you want to grow, you must change, and that change will be constant, fast and furious, scary and uncomfortable! Yep, such is life: if we want to grow, we must change. It’s also non-negotiable, if you are to achieve those grand designs you have! As in life, in business.

One proven technique that helps us learn and develop (the essence of trainability) is to ask these questions again and again: How could they be right? How can I be wrong? How could this different idea be used to benefit our mission? What’s wrong with my thinking? Am I willing to challenge my own position, once I believe it? What change will I make to get better at my job? Why am I fighting so hard to resist this change? Why will I not even consider it? Once again, how could they be right? Those are challenging questions for any of us!

We’re all good at criticizing others, and not so good at most self-criticism. Last night, I heard a speaker say: You must challenge bad ideas, of course, but you must challenge good ideas even more. We believe all of our ideas, beliefs, and habitual thoughts are correct, or at least, we habitually defend them, and we’re awfully good at it. That isn’t going to make you better. Challenging the bad, and the good, habitually, will guarantee you’ll become better at your job, develop stronger relationships, and continuously improve the quality of your life. A great philosopher once said, The unexamined life is not worth living. Examine your beliefs, your ideas, your habits, by challenging them, questioning yourself, instead of merely continuing to defend your often erroneous presumptions and figuring out how everyone else is wrong.

Instead of continuing to avoid the hard conversations you need to have with others, first, learn how to have hard conversations with yourself. You will learn to think more effectively, to question more deeply, to develop your empathy skills by using them with yourself, and to make the change that’s necessary, for you and your team, to achieve your mission. At work, as in life, be trainable, because trainability is vital to success in everything!

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