Learning to Lean and Leaning to Learn



Two lanes diverged and I took the lane fast tracked. I was at the security area and I had enough time to jump into any queue. I decided to test my mental fitness. I decided to play a game with my mind.

A few hours back I had already played a mental game . That morning the journey from home to airport was fraught with anxiety and tension, thanks to my decision to leave by 6.20AM for an 8.25AM flight.  I thought I had enough allowance to be there in the airport 1 hour before the departure. I got there by 7.2Ama after an unprecedented toll gate delay of 15 mins which was only operational last week. I and my always dependable driver Raghu were not aware of this new roadblock. We take things for granted based on old roadmaps and experiences. Better be prepared to deal with the new roadblocks.

I was at the security gate and since I was hard-pressed for getting to the boarding gate in no time I decided to scan all the security check queues. From the look of it, I decided to bet on one lane which appeared to me moving at a fast clip. The difference was the guy clearing the X Ray for baggage looked seasoned and energetic vis a vis the other guy who looked new (senior standing behind him and giving inputs) and slow. The number of passengers and number of bags were more or less the same in both the lanes as I ran the math literally counting the number of bags and number of people. It was clear to me that I will be able to get ahead of that 12th guy in the other lane. The time it took me to get to the other side was more than the other guy in the other lane. I got my bet wrong. So, I was curious. “What could have happened?”

Despite making the right choice based on all the available evidences, I got it wrong. I always believed,” When you know what someone is like, you know what you can expect from them.”

What I did not see was that the seasoned and energetic guy was looking at the watch randomly as it was time for his change of duty. In fact, all his eyes were on the person whom he was expecting to take charge of the duty. This in my view got his productivity down. The new and slow guy was focussed on learning something new from his boss and was applying all the learnings and forgot about the time. In my view he was only making eye contact with the X ray screen and learning at a fast clip, he was increasing productivity.  There are people who are leaning towards comfort and there are people learning from discomfort.


I  decided to lean and learn from discomfort. I decided to meet some “new” guys last weekend (People whom I had never met before). Through one of my close friend I decided to meet this guy who had just cleared his GRE and his insights on Analytics was amazing. I had carried a spiral note book and pen with me and in no time, he shared some online learning platforms!

I planned to share my learnings with a couple of my friends who are in real need. They are going through some adversities at work and I felt these inputs can help them. The message was clear” not so young” guys need to leave their comfort and get into that discomfort of learning new skills.

I had a chance meeting with one more person who had run 4 full marathons and he mentioned about a new exercise called ” Animal Flow”, which is catching up in India. These are exercises with your body weight and gravity. I leaned in and asked him a lot of questions about the exercise, diet and discipline which he follows in his life.

Learning to Lean and Leaning to Learn are both important. We need to forget our ego and decide to lean to learn. This can be cultivated by reaching out to our network and be curious about people’s skills and focussing on meeting them online or offline. Anyone who is ready to share with us information & Insight which has utility for achieving our goals is worth pursuing. Once you find that person, it is important to acknowledge and declare that I am Leaning to learn from you.

These two guys changed my perception about Analytics and Exercise. Everyone is superior to you in some way. If you are willing to lean and learn from their beliefs we can develop new perspectives. Their beliefs can be contradicting and conflicting with yours.

We have to realize what you believe is a choice.


2 thoughts on “Learning to Lean and Leaning to Learn

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  1. Lots to pick up from this blog, Vinod. I like the climax through the JJ Parker quote, “….The harder we lean, the stronger we grow”.

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