How To Find The Learning Zone

Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, is promoting her new book, Lean In as well as encouraging women to start Lean In groups.Here's a great quote from Sandberg:

“At a certain point, it’s your ability to learn quickly and contribute quickly that matters… Women need to shift from thinking ‘I’m not ready to do that’ to thinking ‘I want to do that — and I’ll learn by doing it.’”


This reminds me of "the learning zone" concept. The learning zone is that sweet spot of stretching just outside your comfort zone, but before you extend too far and hit the panic zone.

There's a cool example of this in Geoff Colvin's book Talent Is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else.

Colvin discusses professional figure skaters and the difference between the high-level skaters and sub-elite skaters. "Skaters at the highest levels spent more time on the jumps they couldn't do, the kind that ultimately win Olympic medals and that involve lots of falling down before they're mastered."

To feel like the playing field is more level - even if it's just a shift in perspective - is powerful.

Lean in. Fall down. Find the learning zone. 

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