Learn. Unlearn. Relearn
The Purple Belt
The way we pass cultural software is to blindly copy our predecessors. The children of farmers become farmers, the children of carpenters become carpenters. Even after industrialization, people have sought a path in life that’s stable. But in the knowledge economy of the 21st century, driving a delivery truck, working on an assembly line, or stocking shelves isn’t as stable as it once was.
The White Belt teaches us that we’re all part of a greater culture. The Yellow Belt teaches us our cultures bind us together and blind us to the things outside of ourselves. Unfortunately, the cultures we’ve picked up aren’t always enough to cope with the rapidly changing world we now live in.
This is the Purple Belt of Mixed Mental Arts:
- Culture evolves to help us survive our environment. For the first time in human history we find ourselves in an environment that is constantly changing. In order to survive we must develop a culture based on constant evolution.
- The Jobocalypse means that many jobs will be creatively destroyed by technology or significantly changed. It’s becoming increasingly hard to predict the skills needed for future employment.
- Understanding how your own brain works, including automaticity, attention, emotions, and mindsets, will prime you to Learn/unLearn/reLearn as quickly as possible.
Creative destruction has always happened. You can try to fight it like the Luddites or try to outwork the machines like John Henry who died from exhaustion, but technological progress will continue to creatively destroy jobs.
Do androids dream of electric sheep?
Photo by Alex Knight via Unsplash
As Martin Ford explains in Rise of the Robots, new technology often destroys far more jobs than it creates within a given industry. In 1973, Kodak employed 120,000 people. By the time Instagram was acquired, they had 13 employees. A tiny number of high-paying jobs are replacing huge numbers of middle class jobs. Creative destruction means that what you’d expect as a middle class job today most likely won’t be around in 20 years. Software, artificial intelligence, and robots are taking over a lot of jobs that humans used to do because software or robots can work faster and cheaper. They don’t need breaks, they can be thrown away when they are injured, and they don’t ask for benefits.
At Mixed Mental Arts, we call this process The Jobocalypse. We didn’t coin the name, however, we understand the key to surviving and thriving in the Jobocalypse is to learn as much as you can from everywhere. In fact, the key to success is being identified as the ability to train for jobs that don’t even exist yet.
Because culture binds and blinds in order to protect us in an environment our impulse is to be super DEFENSIVE of our beliefs. They’re our survival toolkit. They protected us from eating the wrong berries, or from investigating what might be a lion in the bushes, or from allowing our neighbors to steal our flock.
But defensiveness and rigidity of beliefs are now hurting us more than helping. For the first time in history, humans find themselves in an environment that is constantly changing. So we need to build a new culture based on constant evolution. Surviving and thriving in the environment of the 21st Century is about knowing how to learn, unlearn, and relearn. Knowing how to do that is what the Purple Belt is all about.
You need to retrain yourself constantly to stay ahead of the curve, meaning you’re going to need to understand how to learn as effectively as possible.
In The Straight-A Conspiracy Hunter Maats and Katie O’Brien pulled together seven fields of neuroscience and psychology in a way that even disgruntled teenagers can appreciate. It’s a one-stop shop for learning how to learn. The most important lesson is that you can’t afford to feeeeeeel stupid. In fact, you need to learn The Art of Losing. Beating a video game comes AFTER dying many times, so does becoming good at anything. You make lots and lots of mistakes that help you shoot and adjust fire. By learning just a few things about your brain and the learning process, you can make your practice way more effective.
Understanding the brain might seem really complicated, but actually, there are only three things you need to know: automaticity , attention, and emotions. From there, you have the core insight to become more effective at troubleshooting any problems in learning, unlearning, and relearning you might have.
Don’t wait for someone to train, retrain, or untrain you. You can do it yourself! The internet is full of resources to learn virtually anything required. With a growth mindset around learning and the purple belt, you’ve got everything you need to take charge of your own destiny.
All too often, people make it seem like surviving the Jobocalypse means we’re all going to have to become computer programmers. Not at all, just ask Jon Aguilar who builds with dry stone in the old Celtic tradition.
He’s thriving in the Information Age because he approaches his job with a spirit of learning, unlearning, and relearning. He’s constantly evolving how he does this ancient profession using new insights and new technologies.
The great thing about the Jobocalypse is that it’s the cure for the boredom of having a humdrum job that is the same, year in and year out. It can be terrifying at first. But once you embrace the idea that no one knows what they’re doing and take the creative leap to constantly reinvent yourself, it can be exhilarating! Check out Jon’s Guide to Surviving the Jobocalypse for more inspiration.