Four Types of Learners

The majority of anything is showing up. And we’re not just talking about being there physically. If you want to make being somewhere to learn count, it’s even more essential that you are present mentally.

I look at four main ways that people show up, especially to take a class and learn. The four thought patterns are:

  1. I’m here, but I can’t do it, so I’m just going to end up failing.
  2. I’m here, and I’ll play along, but things are rigged so I can’t pass and will have to retake the class.
  3. I’m here, and I may not get everything, but I’m going to pay attention and do my best.
  4. Lead, follow or move over because I know everything and am only here to check a box.

In case number one, the person is there physically, yet they’re not going to try anything, and have already made up their mind that they are unable to learn. In this case, these people are writing their own destiny. And their writing does not bode well for them or anyone who needs to count on them.

In case number two, the person will try to learn and will give a halfhearted attempt, but other thoughts are on their mind. Their mind is awash with many ideas, and they are not concentrating. The fact is they may try, but real learning is not in there for them today.

Number three is concentrating. Will work hard. Will not take losing personally. And will strive to learn. This person has a much better chance of learning than the first two students. With everything being equal number three is a good student and will have a good shot at learning the information.

Everyone has an ego of one kind or another.  Number four has a huge ego. And unfortunately, the overconfidence of number four will cause a great block to actually learning something new.  We used to call this the John Wayne effect. This type of person actually believes that he or she knows it all, and cannot fail, and anybody who’s not getting behind him or her is lost anyway. It will typically take a significant failure for this person to see the errors of their ways and make a change.

I can say this based on observations of the last 40 years in training, studying behavioral psychology and motivational techniques, and much scrutiny.  I do not encourage you to take my word for this.  I suggest you sit back and observe for yourself, and see if this idea on learners seems to hold truths or not.

These are just the observations of an old Master Sargent who knows that he does not know it all.

Thank you for being with me today. I hope to be with you again tomorrow.