Edward D. Hess is an American academic and author. For more than twenty years, he was senior executive at Warburg Paribas Becker, Boettcher & Company, the Robert M. Bass Group, and Arthur Andersen. Today, he teaches at the Darden Business School at the University of Virginia.
“Hyper-Learning (2020) shows you how to adapt to a rapidly changing world in which technology threatens to make many skills redundant. By adopting a growth mindset, becoming less egotistical, and learning to collaborate, you’ll be ready to face the future.”
To become a hyper-learner, you first need to quiet your ego.
Picture a mid-morning work presentation. You’re listening to a colleague explain a new idea while standing in front of a whiteboard. After a while, she turns to the room and asks if anyone has any questions.
You ask one, challenging her idea. Then, politely and carefully, your colleague explains why you’re mistaken. But rather than listening to her answer, all you hear is her disagreeing with you. Inside, you feel embarrassed – even a little angry at being shown up in front of your teammates.
What’s happening here? Rather than entering into the debate objectively, and accepting that you might be wrong, you’ve let your ego get the better of you. That’s no way to learn.
The key message here is: To become a hyper-learner, you first need to quiet your ego.
Our egos often get in the way of any real learning. They convince us that we’re always correct – that our way of seeing the world is the right way. When our egos are wounded, we respond negatively. We shut down and act irrationally – even when, deep down, we know we might be wrong.
So the first step to becoming a strong learner is quieting the ego. It’s only when we can look at the world with humility, without our ego clamoring for attention, that we can see things clearly.
Let’s go back to the example of the work presentation, and consider a different approach. Rather than feeling irritated when your point is challenged, take some time to listen to the other person’s perspective and reflect on it. Ask her how she came to her conclusion and compare it to your own reasoning. Then, in a spirit of collaboration, calmly agree or disagree. But whatever you do, don’t identify with your ideas. You are not your ideas. The whole point of honest debate is to discover a better idea – together.
Freeing yourself from your ego requires you to redefine your identity. Maybe you’ve earned a PhD, or others have labeled you as “smart.” While you can be proud of your accomplishments, viewing yourself as the best won’t help you see the world from a new or contrasting perspective. Instead of resting on your past achievements, you should learn to define yourself by the quality of your thinking, listening, relating and collaborating. It’s only then that you’ll truly be able to learn.
Key Ideas In Hyper-Learning
- To become a hyper-learner, you first need to quiet your ego.
- Mindfulness meditation helps you prepare for learning.
- There are two key mindsets that are integral to hyper-learning.
- Becoming a hyper-learner is behavioral.
- The story of W. R. Berkley shows how a company can adopt hyper-learning at its core.
- Organizations of the future should adopt four key concepts.
- The key concepts of hyper-learning have already been central to many great thinkers, scientists, and leaders.
“If Inner Peace, Otherness, and Hyper-learning do not seem to you to be key Digital Age skills, then you’re in for a big surprise. Ed Hess takes you on a journey designed to enable you to continually adapt to an ever-changing world where jobs will be automated at a dizzying rate. Meaningful work and a meaningful life will be intimately tied to your developing the capacity to practice a ‘new way of being’ that enables you to excel at doing the types of work that technology won’t be able to do well. Hyper-Learning is a wonderful practical guide to help you stay relevant in the Digital Age workplace.”
—Amy Edmondson, Professor of Leadership and Management, Harvard Business School, and author of The Fearless Organization
“Hyper-Learning is a masterpiece ‘how-to’ and ‘why-to’ book that takes us on an instructional journey to a future where learning must change in profound ways because of advancing technologies. This book helps readers reflect deeply about feelings, mindsets, and behaviors to discover things about themselves in a way that sticks. The powerful goal of ‘thinking behaviorally’ is a great way to describe this book, which also helps leadership move from ‘command and control’ to ‘inspire and support.’”
—Gary S. Calabrese, PhD, Senior Vice President and Director, Corning Global Research, Corning Incorporated
“The future will require us to be more human, to continuously reinvent ourselves, and to excel at doing the things that technology cannot do well. Ed Hess gives us practical tools, based on learning science, to learn a ‘New Way of Being’ and a ‘New Way of Working’ that will enable human adaptation and life-long learning in the Digital Age. We all will need to excel at: knowing how to learn, unlearn and relearn; how to effectively collaborate; and how to manage ourselves in order to do our best work and to live a meaningful life. The workbook ‘learn by doing’ approach in this book is a winner!”
—Alex Hernandez, Dean, University of Virginia School of Continuing and Professional Studies
“Hyper-Learning is the ‘how-to’ road map for leading in the Digital Age. Enhancing one’s learning agility is the only way to thrive in a world of ever accelerating change.”
—Fernando Mercé, former CEO and President, Nestlé Waters North America
“Hyper-Learning offers readers fresh insights into how to learn, behave, and thrive in an era of unprecedented digital challenge and change. Professor Hess – through insightful commentary, rich research, and illustrative case studies – shows us how we can become better, fuller versions of ourselves and tells us why it is imperative that we do so. Hyper-Learning is psychologically astute, refreshingly pragmatic, and designed to help us move forward in a new and uncharted era.”
—Ming-Jer Chen, former President, Academy of Management, and Leslie E. Grayson Professor of Business Administration, Darden School of Business
“Ed Hess is prescient in identifying a challenge that all of us will encounter—the need to become hyper-learners—that is, to become more agile, quick, and efficient in our ability to learn and adapt to the future. His workshop-based book will engage you deeply in a hyper-learning experience that will grab you, enlarge you, and change you in ways that will help you become more like your best self.”
—Kim Cameron, William Russell Kelly Professor of Management and Organizations, Ross School of Business, and Professor of Higher Education, School of Education, University of Michigan
“Hyper-Learning is a wonderfully comprehensive and enlightening book. For many of us, the pace of the technological revolution seems dizzying, dazzling, and hell-bent on destroying the jobs and professions that define us. Like many others worried by this seismic change, I’ve wondered how any of us can possibly compete with smart machines in the long run? In Hyper-Learning, Ed Hess offers a distinctively human strategy and a science-based path to enduring relevance through self-reflection, self-development, and the practices that are required for learning faster and transforming our abilities at the speed of change. Ed’s work demonstrates that we must truly love learning to become hyper-learners and that we must also have the emotional peace and humility required to learn from others and to unlearn some of our ideas as readily as we learn new ones.”
—Peter Rodriguez, Dean and Professor, Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Business, Rice University
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