Every day’s a learning day – guest post

I’m delighted to be hosting a post from Andrew Page (@drewrachpage) a senior leader in Anglian Water who’s written with his take on learning every day for the CIPD L&D Show #blogcarnival (read more about that here).  For Andrew, learning every day in fact means pushing the boundaries to fail every day – otherwise how can you learn?

Every day’s a learning day…..

Or more accurately, every day I am reminded that I’ve learnt that before haven’t I?

Last week I completely peed off Mrs P at 0530am. Obviously I didn’t mean to. I thought it was caused by me waking her up when I accidentally knocked my glasses onto the (wooden) floor in our bedroom. I blurted out “it was an accident.”

Thing is, Mrs P knew that. All she actually wanted me to say was “I’m sorry”. But I didn’t. I got all defensive. So for the rest of the day, there was tension and anxiety. Wholly avoidable tension and anxiety. Anxiety? Yes, because I spent the whole day wondering if I was still in the dog house when I got home.

Well guess what…? There are many parallels in the world of trying to be a leader. Yep. I know.

Why did I immediately go on the defensive? Do I replicate this behaviour in the workplace? Probably. Assuming I do, what effect does that have on the people around me? Hmmm I’m going out on a limb here – it probably causes tension and makes them anxious..

If people are tense or anxious do they perform at their best? Not usually if I’m honest. Instead of being innovative and creative with no boundaries I find them… well let’s be kind… playing safe. Trying to not do the wrong thing, rather than trying to do something great. I confess: I don’t think I always remember the learning. Sometimes its obvious when I’m heading down that defensive road – I hear myself using defensive language and haul myself back from the brink. But sometimes, you know… Sometimes I just know best. So stop arguing with me! Is that the learning? Accept that arguing is a negative so I need to change my recognition emotions – its not arguing, its an opportunity to learn and so something great

A long time ago, I learned that failures are the best thing for me. Because I do ‘things’, ‘things’ go wrong. If you are always pushing the boundaries of accepted norms then your opportunities to embrace failure are increased. So, imagine an approach where we LOOK for failures in every day of our working lives.. things that may appear to be small/inconsequential get ignored on a regular basis. But what if there were several small gem sin there that we are missing because we just don’t look? Be in no doubt this is a gift, particularly in a collaborative working environment. Never ever miss the opportunity to fail in a collaborative group.

I work in an environment that champions collaboration across many areas – internally and with our supply chain. It is hard work but I love it. What makes it easier is… learning. Every day. But this becomes nigh on impossible if you forget the first thing you learned about collaboration.. the need for absolute alignment and commitment to wanting to collaborate, to be an alliance. Because that’s important when you want to learn. Without that you have no foundation. In that situation, when people get defensive about something you cant remind them of why you are all there. Its harder to push for innovation and creativity against a door that’s marked ‘The Way We Do Things Round Here’ than it is on one marked ‘Lets do something great together’ .

I reckon I’ve got this sussed. They aren’t arguing with me they are giving me opportunities to work with them on something great. In order to do that, I’m going to fail. Every day.

And there’s no point you trying to change my mind on that.


Check out more posts on the topic by following #cipdldshow, and I’ll be curating them all in a post on here in the first week of May.

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