Interpersonal Edge: Success Through Learning

By Daneen Skube, Interpersonal Edge

Dr. Daneen Skube, executive coach, trainer, therapist, and speaker, addresses the importance of continuous learning: of personal growth, accountability, and the will to learn.


Question:

I’m a fan of your column and have noticed you often refer to learning, personal growth, and accountability. What do you think the connection is between these things? How do you recommend your clients develop these capacities? How do you think these qualities affect your success at work?

Answer:

These are great questions that get to the heart of what I teach in corporate settings. Learning requires humility. Personal growth requires acknowledging weaknesses. And accountability gives us the power to use our humility to turn our weaknesses into strengths.

There has been a great deal of research on how to create a “learning” organization at work. Most of these studies fail to focus on the reality that a learning organization has to be composed of individuals eager to learn.

I remember when writing my book I talked to everyone I met about what they felt they could improve on in their interpersonal relationships. I was surprised that about 40% of the people I talked to told me there was nothing they could improve. I realized these people lacked the power to change.

Emotionally, we usually feel complicated feelings about learning anything as adults. We make mistakes, experience embarrassment, and struggle with multiple attempts. We also improve with every failure. We learn what doesn’t work. We learn how to learn and improve.

The most important skill I gained from my decades of personal therapy is that I approach failure with enthusiasm and curiosity. I know my future successes build on a foundation of failures.

Advice on learning

I advise clients to get comfortable with the vastness of what we don’t know. Humble people are wide open for help, wisdom, and innovation. Arrogant people are so full of themselves that they feel there’s no room for anything new.

I advise clients to use adversity and problems to teach themselves. Our problems always occur in the presence of the same ingredient – ourselves. This is self-accountability, and it gives us opportunities to change ourselves and our situations.

Lastly, I advise people to avoid the “hood of victimhood” or feeling sorry for ourselves, which is a neighborhood of useless suffering. If we cannot see how we ended up in miserable circumstances, it’s impossible to get ourselves out of those circumstances.

We are all, as mortal beings, going to experience suffering. The capacity to turn suffering into wisdom requires a yearning to learn and change. The famous English naturalist Charles Darwin observed that animals either adapt or die.

We’re all better off experiencing new challenges that inspire us to become better than we were yesterday, than to refuse to adapt, to learn, and suffer with familiar, limiting, and repetitive misery.


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The last word(s)

Question:

I hate it when people at work gossip about me or speak critically. Is there a way to control my reputation?

Answer:

No, as John Wooden, a highly successful basketball coach, advised: “Worry more about your character than your reputation. Character is what you are, reputation merely what others think you are.”

Daneen Skube, Ph.D., executive coach, trainer, therapist and speaker, also appears as the FOX Channel’s “Workplace Guru” each Monday morning. She’s the author of “Interpersonal Edge: Breakthrough Tools for Talking to Anyone, Anywhere, About Anything” (Hay House, 2006). You can contact Dr. Skube at www.interpersonaledge.com or 1420 NW Gilman Blvd., #2845, Issaquah, WA 98027. Sorry, no personal replies.

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