“I am defeated, and know it, if I meet any human being from whom I find myself unable to learn anything.”
– George Herbert Palmer

I’m sure we’ve all worked with someone we found it very difficult to learn from and someone who seemed to do everything with the sole purpose of proving their knowledge and worth.

On the web site Escape from Cubicle Nation, the author Pam Slim explains two types of mindsets: the beginner and the expert. She relates the differences in the two ways of thinking to Entrepreneurs, but the same advice applies to the IT industry.

She explains that the beginner mindset is curious about how things work and why, is interested in other’s opinions and why they have the opinion, is interested in how others think, and is always seeking to learn more.

Whereas, the expert is constantly trying to prove to others that he/she already knows what needs to be known, and is always seeking to teach others and to be understood by others. The expert frequently sees training sessions and certain discussions as a waste of their time.

It’s easy to let it happen in an area where you have a lot of experience, but we should strive to always have the mindset that we can learn and learn from anyone. Sometimes you can learn from the most unexpected people.

From my own experience it is when I have the beginner mindset that I am most engaged with what I am doing, and it results in a strong passion to continue to improve and learn. Whereas, when I let myself fall into the expert mindset, I tend to get bored with what I’m doing; I subconsciously convince myself I have nothing left to learn and when that happens, I lose interest.

“Every act of conscious learning requires the willingness to suffer an injury to one’s self-esteem. That is why young children, before they are aware of their own self-importance, learn so easily.”
– Thomas Szasz

To read Pam’s original article, visit her web site.