Double Loop Learning

A common trait among the most successful, accomplished people is that they are Double Loop Learners.

Double Loop Learning is rare. Single Loop Learning is very common. 

Single Loop Learners look at external factors for the reasons behind their successes or failures.

A gym owner might think they're not as successful as they'd like because of the competition down the street or because her coaches aren't motivated enough. An athlete might think they aren't progressing because they're not following the right program or because they can't afford the right sneakers.

Double Loop Learners take a deep look at their strengths and weakness, realizing that those are the factors contributing to their success or failures. 

I get it. That's hard to do. 

It's much easier to brush it off as the universe not rewarding us. It's much harder to admit that maybe we're not a great leader. It's much harder to admit we're not great at delegating authority, or taking direction, or exercising patience in our lifts.

The New York Times had a short article a few years ago called "The Secret Ingredient to Success." The author closed with this:

No one’s idea of a good time is to take a brutal assessment of their animating assumptions and to acknowledge that those may have contributed to their failure. It’s easy to find pat ways to explain why the world has not adequately rewarded our efforts. But what we learned from conversation with high achievers is that challenging our assumptions, objectives, at times even our goals, may sometimes push us further than we thought possible.

If you want the bumper sticker version of that, it's this: If I'm not where I want to be, it's my fault. If my gym isn't as successful as I want, it’s on me. If I'm not the athlete I think I can be, it's because of what I'm doing or not doing. 

Look at your routines. Look at your goals. Look at your methods. 

Then get to work.

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