Never stop learning!

Albert Einstein said “Intellectual growth should commence at birth and cease only at death”.

Similarly Henry Ford is quoted like that “Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young”.

Why do I bother you with those statements today?

Well, I did some reflection this weekend. It started with a talk with a friend already last week. He told me that he first time in his life was putting tiles himself and he had googled a while and read exactly how you do it and it was quite good with one exemption, when he filled the grouts the material got stuck on the tiles since those had a rough surface. I had to laugh because I have been laying tiles myself for about 35 years, not as a profession, but as a hobby, first for my mother, than in all my houses and most of my flats. I never googled, I learned from a professional when I was a teenager and it went quite well except this time: first time with tiles that had a rough surface. My friend then told me that he afterward googled again and found a specific instruction for tiles with rough surface, how to avoid to get sealants (the stuff you fill the grouts with). So two different approaches (He trusting in Google, I trusting in many years experience) lead to the same: we both learned something new! If you know worry about the surface,don’t bother too much, his wife likes the more grey on the tiles and I am still removing, I assume except a bit more work to do, no harm.

Another examples that stimulated my reflections:

Ski jumping in Japan this week, Austria was dominating this discipline for many years but recently they had very few successes. A former top athlete, actually my favourite one Andreas Felder took over as new manager just at the beginning of the season. The only Austrian top performer from last 2 winters, former total world cup winner Stefan Kraft was also behind, but he came back to go to podium places on 3 of 4 stations of the tournament with most prestige during the news-year break. After more than a year he took Austria’s first victory again last week in Zakopane and now he made a double victory in Sapporo this weekend, already putting him in second position of the world cup this season. And in his shadow an Austrian youngster took the longest jump of the second draw to end on place 15th, and 2 more Austrian in TOP20. Just 2 months ago having one in TOP20 was an achievement, now 3 victories in a row and 4 in the TOP20, what a change! The interesting part is now how Andreas Felder is managing this. He said from the beginning that the other nations have done small improvements in their technique that the Austrian team due to their successful seasons have missed. It will take the whole season to “repair” this and return to a top nation again. That was not popular, because people in Austria love their “flying eagles” and they demand to see them winning. After Stefan Kraft reaching the podium in the first competition of the tournament in late December, Austria’s supporter were relieved and celebrated, but Andreas Felder said, please keep calm, this was more a lucky punch than a comeback. And he was so right when Stefan Kraft missed the cut for the second draw in the next competition already. But now Stefan Kraft has come back and a few other Austrians are on a good way. Very well-known Austrian jumpers like the one with most victories in the world, Gregor Schlierenzauer, do not even compete at the moment. Felder lets them work on the small details he has seen and he gives them the time to do this with patience, despite the public pressure. From where did he get this attitude? I don’t know, but I know he has demonstrated it in an astonishing way in his own career himself. He was one of the world’s best with a lot of victories, even a world champion once, bu then came Jan Boklöv from Sweden with the V-style and won competitions. Many other young jumpers changed to V-style and started to win. Andreas Felder started the season with classical style and won some competition, but he realized that the future is V-style, took a break and went to training V-style. He came back at the end of the season to the world cup – in V-style. Next season all world-cup winners won in V-style, so did Andreas Felder who became the first winning world  cup competitions in both styles – and there came only very few after him. He finished his great career with an Olympic silver medal in V-style – the same man who 5 years earlier was noted a world record in ski jumping in classical style. Exactly therefore he his my favourite ski jumper because of his mature insight and decision 2 years before the end of his career to learn everything once again from scratch. Not many ski jumpers were part of such revolutionary changes, and even much less have mastered them in this attitude.

By the way if we stay with sports, have you noticed that Manchester United have now taken the 8th victory in a row by beating Arsenal in their Emirates Stadium in the FA Cup? Stay tuned on this, there is probably more to learn from those guys, I was right that Solskjaer delivered inspiration, but I assume there is more….

So what will I do this week for not stopping learning? Among others I have following on the schedule:

  • I will have a follow-up call with my former project to learn if there are any new conclusions and learnings 1 year after the transformation
  • I will listen to a lecture about competence needs for the boards of rapidly growing companies
  • I will have a mentoring lunch to listen to a friend’s problem with work culture, hopefully I can help her on this journey, but I am sure we both will learn
  • I will prepare for giving advise to a company with growth ambitions and I am sure both the preparation and especially the presentation will give me new insights
  • I will meet a consultancy company to understand better how they work with their “match-making”
  • and, and, and….

Have a nice and successful week!