Saturday, December 25, 2021



Sachin Tendulkar had quite an average test series against Australia in 2004 scoring just ~100 runs in 3 tests. He knew there was nothing wrong in his form and upon consultation with his brother realized that his shot selection was possibly an issue. In the next innings at Sydney he ends up scoring an unbeaten 241. Only change he made was- eliminate his favorite shot- cover drive from his innings.

Serena Williams fell from being world's top ranked Tennis player to be beaten by World# 111 within a span of a few months in 2011. With her new coach, she was able to work on injuries and the mindset issues in the next few years and won almost every tournament in Tennis in 2015.

On the surface level, we could reason both these as comeback, never-give-up stories but upon peeling the layers, there is another phenomenon at play here- Unlearning and Relearning. Sachin was extraordinarily quick to replace his existing knowledge with a new habit. For Serena, the cycle of unlearning wasn't only about change in training plans and coach but also determining what part of her knowledge was outdated and causing the dip in performance.

Reiterating that unlearning is one of the keys to a successful career is like telling what many already know. But the core question really is- how to execute learning-unlearning-relearning cycle. Is there any wisdom available that can help us ? I loved the ideas shared in the Harvard Business Review article- "Why the Problem with Learning Is Unlearning" 3 ideas:
1. First, you have to recognize that the old mental model is no longer relevant or effective. 
2. Second, you need to find or create a new model that can better achieve your goals.
3. Third, you need to ingrain the new mental habits

If you are in product space, it would be worth to apply these to the list that Julie Zhuo shared in her recent twitter thread It's a list that includes the things you learn in school that must be unlearned when you start building software products. (included my #sketchnote of this insightful twitter thread)

What else would you add to this list ? What's your experience with executing learning-unlearning-relearning ? #learning #unlearning

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