Feeling Scrambled? Good.

In an Adult Learning article in The New York Times Kathleen Taylor, a professor at St. Mary's College of California, shared, "As adults we have these well-trodden paths in our synapses, we have to crack the cognitive egg and scramble it up. And if you learn something this way [the "scrambled egg" way], when you think of it again you'll have an overlay of complexity you didn't have before – and [it will] help your brain keep developing as well."   

In the same article, Dr. Jack Mezirow, professor emeritus at Columbia Teachers College, shares that an essential element in adult learning is to challenge our own ingrained perceptions and to examine our insights critically. Dr. Mezirow says that adults learn best when faced with what he calls a "disorienting dilemma"-something that "helps you critically reflect on the assumptions you've acquired." 

It seems safe to say that the recession has offered us a disorienting dilemma.  How cheering to know that the cognitive scramble it has produced offers just the type of learning environment in which the adult brain learns best!  And we don't just learn, but we also develop the ability to make better sense of future complex situations.

Products and services come and go and change at an incredible rate, as do the ways we conduct business.  The businesses that I see thriving today are those that have pursued the learning dished up by this disorienting dilemma, responding in ever more sophisticated ways to the complexities of their products and services, their business model, and the world around them.  It is a joy to watch and gives me great hope that our smarter businesses and nonprofit enterprises can help us realize the great opportunity that lies in these dizzying times.

Roland Merullo, author of Breakfast with Buddha, stated in comments at the end of the book "that life is a kind of boot camp, designed to break you down and build you up in a different way – if you let it."  

Keep up the good work!


Mary Ann Kristiansen

Hannah Grimes Center Executive Director