receptive to learning are you?
Zen story goes: "A successful man went to a Zen master and announced
he had come to learn all about Zen. The master invited the man to sit
down and have tea. As the master poured the tea, it overflowed. The man
shouted, 'It's spilling, it's spilling!' To which the master replied,
'Precisely--you came with a full cup. Your cup is already spilling over,
so how can I give you anything? Unless you come with emptiness, I can
give you nothing.'"
Just as the
full cup accepted no more tea, the closed mind accepts no more learning.
Accepting and making best use of your mentoring experience isn't always
easy. Being open to input, course correction, new ways of thinking, and
possibly daunting new experiences can be challenging and a bit scary.
Opening yourself to mentoring may suggest that you don't have every base
covered and that you still have some growing to do. This can be hard to
admit, especially in the workplace. However, you must remember that people
who seek mentoring tend to grow on the job, and those who solicit feedback
usually get it. If you persist in looking for learning, seeking challenge,
and welcoming growth, you will have many teachers and many mentors.
how open you are to learning opportunities, complete this short self-assessment
for maximizing learning from your mentoring experience. Give yourself
a rating from 1 to 6 on the following items for how closely each statement
describes you (6 for very closely; 1 for not closely at all):
are you to new learning? Receptive learners initiate discussions that
result in assistance and feedback and are willing to risk being vulnerable
in order to reach their full potential.
- I value
and seek feedback from my mentor, my supervisor, my peers, and others
with whom I work, even when it is difficult to accept.
- I freely
share information with my mentor about my struggles and difficulties.
manage your own learning? Self-managers take the actions and steps
necessary to get to the next level in their career rather than expecting
their mentors to do it for them.
- I know
what I want from my career, and I have a professional development plan
with objectives and actions.
- I take
full responsibility for the success of my relationship with my mentor.
your self-awareness IQ? Learners with high self-awareness IQs reflect
on their own developmental needs and are able to listen to themselves
about the people and environment around them.
- At the
end of the day, I reflect on my performance and the events that took
place in order to seek new learning.
- I pay
conscious attention to how events and situations are affecting me and
do you stand on resilience? Resilient people are willing to be and
stay uncomfortable, and they initiate and sustain difficult relationships
for the sake of growth and learning.
- I respond
to disappointment or setbacks by learning more about what went wrong
and how I can do things differently in the future.
- I push
myself to do the things I fear in order to attain growth for my development.
are you? Growth-oriented people actively contribute, take ownership
for improving work, and gather feedback in order to become more successful.
- When opinions
differ or disagreements occur, I try to understand why someone else's
view is different from mine.
- I look
to see how much I can learn instead of how often I can be right.
do you learn about yourself? Self-learners are those who, in the solving
of one problem, learn something about preventing similar problems.
- I explore
how my way of thinking about a problem may be getting in the way of
- I pay
attention to my patterns of behavior and how they impact my effectiveness.
have finished rating yourself on each statement, add your total under
each of the categories. Your self-score may indicate that you are stronger
in some areas than others. Concentrate on developing those areas where
you have the lowest scores. For example, if you scored a 3 under the question
"Do you manage your own learning?" you may need to think more
about where you want to go in your career and create a professional development
plan to help you reach your goal.
and most important factor in deriving learning out of every opportunity
is to know what you want and to have your goals clearly in mind. You will
then be able to see where you have the space in your "teacup"
to let in more learning.
Ambrose is a managing partner at Perrone-Ambrose Associates, Inc., an
organizational development consulting firm that helps organizations create
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Executive, November/December 2002