Learning is a key feature of humanity. It allows us to improve over time and learn from past mistakes. Learning (along with physical growth) is the defining process that makes us different at 30 years old than 3 years old.
Earlier this year, Reid Hoffman
wrote “Those Who Teach, Can Do
”, an excellent essay on the theme of learning. In it, he discusses explicit learners (the following quotes are all pulled from Reid’s essay).
Who is an Explicit Learner?
“Truly breakout performers tend to place an unusually high emphasis on improving their capabilities and performance over time.”
Explicit learners are those who deliberately learn with the goal of improvement. In the context of a career, they seek to learn from their direct experiences as well as from others, they solicit feedback from peers and have a curiosity to read and ask around new subjects.
“…They also have an extremely well-developed ability to share the knowledge they acquire with others.”
In my career at high-growth startups, I have found this to be true of the most impressive people I have worked with. They tend to reflect on their experience and internalise lessons. When you ask them a question, they are often able to break down the factors they would consider with great detail (whether their craft is marketing, software development or operational improvement).
Explicit learners understand the variables in given situations that they effect and often form principles that they carry forward with them.