and the practice necessary to reach
your objective of learning to delegate.
When we are blocked from learning,
the chances are the blockage comes
from hidden internal assessments and
standards, not from external factors
in the environment. Learning to learn
is a skill with which we recognize our
prevailing unproductive moods and
shift to productive moods. The shift
frequently involves retraining our automatic responses to learning situations.
Perhaps the most fundamental aspect of learning to learn is learning to
be open to learning. As beginners we
are more likely to learn if we are open,
curious, and in a mood of wonder
about what we do not know. Instead,
beginners frequently experience frustration, insecurity, confusion, anxiety,
and resignation—which block learning. In those moments, it is important
to reflect on what may be provoking
those moods so that we can see what actions will shift our moods and allow us
to continue learning. Part of the learning process requires that we develop
emotional fortitude to tolerate discomforts that come from mistakes and
from changing our habitual patterns. If
we do this, we will be much more likely
to reach our final learning objectives.
1. Denning, P. Moods. Commun. ACM 55, 12 (Dec. 2012),
2. Denning, P. Moods, wicked problems, and learning.
Commun. 56, 3 (Mar. 2013), 30–32.
3. Dreyfus, H. On the Internet. (2nd ed. 2008),
4. Dreyfus, S.E. and Drefus, H.L. A five-stage model
of the mental activities involved in directed skill
acquisition. Storming Media, 1980; http://www.
5. Flores, G. Learning to Learn and the Navigation of
Moods. Pluralistic Networks Publishing, 2016.
6. Flores, F. and Flores Letelier, M. Conversations
for Action and Collected Essays. CreateSpace
Independent Publishing Platform, 2013.
7. Friedman, T. The World Is Flat. (3rd ed.), Picador, 2007.
8. Spear, S. The High-Velocity Edge. McGraw-Hill
Peter J. Denning ( firstname.lastname@example.org) is Distinguished
Professor of Computer Science and Director of the
Cebrowski Institute for information innovation at the
Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, CA, is Editor
of ACM Ubiquity, and is a past president of ACM.
The author’s views expressed here are not necessarily
those of his employer or the U.S. federal government.
Gloria Flores ( email@example.com) is
co-founder and President of Pluralistic Networks, and co-designer of Working Effectively in Small Teams ( WES T),
a four-month immersive course designed to enable
participants to develop skills that will enable them to
work more effectively in teams, such as coordination of
action, listening, building trust, and managing morale.
Copyright held by authors.
Having become aware of these
standards and the habits that you have
acquired to support them, how do you
change them? Begin by focusing on
Question 4 in the list of four questions
we presented earlier. Why is reaching
your learning objective important
to you? If you delegate more will you
have a stronger team? Will you have
more time to focus on strategic issues that benefit your team over time?
Will people want to join your team
because of their potential for growth?
The answers to these questions will
help you to cultivate a mood of ambition about the benefits of delegating
more effectively. Supported by your
ambition, you can resolve to embark
on a process for learning to delegate.
You start delegating and sharing your
expectations for your team members’
successes. You will need to cultivate
some emotional fortitude during this
learning period because it will not be
comfortable for you—but you are confident that learning to delegate more
effectively and have others grow in
their responsibilities is good for you,
your team, and your company. If a particular delegation does not work, you
take time to evaluate why it did not
work, talk to the person about it, and
try again until it produces successful
results. In other words, by cultivating
moods of ambition and resolution
you begin to shift away from moods
that block you from learning to delegate and you give yourself the time
you may have
that you formed
for coping with
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