Can You Learn To Do, Instead of By Doing?
This is my site Written by Alora on April 16, 2010 – 10:37 pm

I am guilty of a great many assumptions. There are a lot of things that I take for granted — the types of things that come naturally to me, the perspective I have on things, the business insights I rely on, the experiences I draw from — are all things that frequently turn out to be a bit more unique to me than I always assume.

One of the biggest assumptions I make is that the only real learning — in both life and business — is attained by doing. And usually doing is a constant experiment. Do, make a mistake, re-do, and repeat as needed.

But what about people who actually do learn in a more academic way? People who want and need to first read, then discuss, then process, then internalize and then try? And is it possible to be successful in life — and especially in your own business — if that’s the process you need to go through to learn?

That’s a perfectly fine solution for a 19-year-old, just getting started, who is still in school. But what about a mid-life professional in a career change, or launching a new venture? What do they do? If you’re trying to get a new business off the ground, you don’t get the luxury of pulling to the side of the road and going back to school for a couple of years.

For some of us, that’s ok. In fact, for some of us, that’s fabulous. But for others, it’s overwhelming, upsetting, frightening and debilitating. What is their solution?

The only thing I can think of is finding a mentor. But how does someone who needs an immersive learning experience find a full-time mentor to come into their new business for 3-6 months, and walk with them as they learn to navigate the treacherous world of a startup? Is it possible? And how does an unfunded startup compensate for that?

I’m genuinely curious and truly want to know how to blend a more traditional academic learning aptitude with the daily chaos of a startup business venture. The two feel mutually exclusive to me, but I feel confident that it can’t be an entirely unique problem, either. Someone somewhere must have solved it. But who? And where are they? And what did they do?