The world changes. Some people don’t.
You learned things that were true back then, but now they’re false.
You got successful doing things one way, but now that way is moot.
You still consider yourself an expert, but that expertise has expired.
You dug so deep into something that you lost perspective, and didn’t realize the landscape had changed.
Sometimes it’s just a change in situation. The strategy that got you to where you are is different from the strategy that will get you to where you want to be next.
The solution for all of these is unlearning.
Doubt each old thing you know. Require current evidence. Make it prove itself to be true today. Otherwise, let it go.
Yes I’m talking to myself. For ten years I was so deep in my little world of CD Baby that I lost all perspective. I learned so much about the music business in the 90s, then spoke like an expert about it for years, until I suddenly realized that the world had changed so what I was saying wasn’t true anymore.
Since then, when I’m asked for my opinion about the music business, I just say, “I don’t know.” It feels weird to say that when someone is looking to me for answers, but I know my old opinions have expired, so I can’t trust those anymore.
It hurts to go from feeling like an expert to feeling like an idiot. But it’s crucial to go through that pain, or you’ll never grow.
This is a modern situation that’s here to stay. Technology will keep changing the world faster, so we’ll have to keep unlearning what we knew, and relearning anew.
P.S. Two great quotes about this:
“The illiterates of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.” — Alvin Toffler
“I can’t understand why people are frightened of new ideas. I’m frightened of the old ones.” — John Cage