Alex Bierach

Clarity and alignment to create results that matter

Learning to Learn and the Navigation of Moods

10 May 2019

Most professions these days involve learning. A competitive advantage in the modern world is mastering your learning process. A key skill in mastering your learning process is the navigation of moods.

There are two aspects of mastering your learning process through the navigation of moods:

  • Noticing and shifting out of moods that inhibit learning
  • Noticing and cultivating moods that promote learning

Noticing and shifting out of moods that inhibit learning

As you scan the table below, see if you recognize yourself in any of the descriptions. Which moods are you most likely to fall into when being challenged in a learning situation?

List of moods that get in the way of learning and their underlying assessments:

Unproductive Mood Assessments that could trigger this mood
Confusion I don’t understand what is going on here, and I don’t like it. Being confused is a bad thing. There is nothing of value for me here. Being confused is not good for me. I need to quickly escape this situation!
Resignation I am too old to learn this. I am never going to be able to do this, no matter how much I try, so what’s the point? This involves numbers; I was never good at math, so I am not going to be able to do this. This game requires reading a map; I am bad with maps. There is no point for me to even try this game. This is not possible.
Frustration I tried to do this, but failed. I expected to be able to do this already. I am not getting this as fast as I think I should. This isn’t working like it should.
Arrogance There is nothing new for me to learn here. I already know all there is to know about this. Or I already know I want to know. This is a waste of my time.
Impatience (Often coupled with arrogance.) There is no value in what we are doing here. We need to move on. This needs to go faster. We’re wasting time.
Boredom There is nothing of value for me here. There is nothing I can do to make it less boring to me.
Fear/Anxiety I don’t know how to do this. I may make mistakes. Mistakes are bad and I may not recover from them. I don’t know what the right course of action is. I am going to quit, because making a mistake is worse than simply not trying.
Overwhelm There is so much I don’t know, or can’t do. There is no one I can ask for help. I just have to work harder and harder, but I’ll probably still fail because there isn’t enough time.
Lack of Confidence (insecurity) I am not competent to learn this. I have always been bad at math, so I am not going to be able to learn this since it requires math. I’ve never done this. I can’t do this. I am not good enough to be here. Others are way smarter than I am. I am never going to get this!
Distrust or Skepticism I don’t trust that my colleague will take care of me if I tell him I don’t know what to do. I think my colleague talks a good game, but I don’t think she knows how to teach me what I need to know. I am not going to ask him for help as I don’t think he is competent to give it to me. This process may be working for some people, but I am skeptical that it will really work for me.

Table from ‘Learning to Learn and the Navigation of Moods’ by Gloria P. Flores

Noticing and cultivating moods that promote learning

List of moods that are conducive to learning and their underlying assessments:

Mood Assessments that could trigger this mood
Wonder I don’t know what is going on here, but the world if full of opportunities and I like it! Even thought I don’t have a clue what is going on here, I trust that there is something for me to learn, and I am excited about it. Unlike a mood of confusion, when in a mood of wonder (or perplexity) ignorance shows up as something positive, a new frontier to explore, an inspiration for our learning, not something to be embarrassed by or to be avoided.
Perplexity I am totally confused, but I feel it is important to explore more and possibly get answers that may be important to me. I am going to stick with this until I persevere.
Serenity/Acceptance I accept that the past is the past and is not in my control. I accept that the future is uncertain, it will be full of surprises, and I cannot predict it. Both good and bad will come unexpectedly, and I am grateful to life. Unlike resignation, when we are in a mood of serenity, we accept the past as the past, but we are not resigned about our future possibilities, and we are free to take action to embrace these or walk away from these.
Patience I accept that learning requires that I practice recurrently over a period of time. That is the way learning works.
Ambition I see opportunities here. I may not be fully prepared and I am not certain of everything that may come my way, but I am convinced that my full commitment to this is valuable. I am committed to take action. When we are in a mood of ambition, setbacks show up as challenges to navigate and master, not as evidence that what we set out to accomplish is not possible, as they might be interpreted by someone who is in moods of resignation, insecurity, or anxiety, for example.
Resolution I see opportunities here and I am going to take action right now.
Confidence I have successful experience in this area, and I am competent to act in this situation. I have been able to learn new things before, and I am going to be able to do it again. I have people that I can ask for help, who will take care of me. When in a mood of confidence, lack of competence shows up as something to master, not as a reason to give up.
Trust I am learning from people who have experience in the area I want to learn from. They have produced results. They have a good reputation. I can learn from them. They care about supporting my learning. They are not going to judge me negatively if I don’t know something.

Table from ‘Learning to Learn and the Navigation of Moods’ by Gloria P. Flores