Don’t forget your Lessons Learned

When you complete a project, an activity, an event, or a class, do you make note of your lessons learned? What you want to remember? What you would do differently next time?

Lessons learned is such a powerful tool. It’s the tool we use as kids when we stick our hands in a flame and burn it and yell ouch that (hopefully!) keeps us from doing that again. It’s what keeps us from repeating the same mistakes over and over (and lets us make new mistakes!). It’s the engine that drives us to practice, improve, and progress.

It’s such a simple tool, and it’s all yours to use. After completing a project or learning something new, make a list (on paper or in your head) of the key pieces that you learned. Whether small or large, if they made a difference make a note of it. In a similar vein, make a list of things you would do differently. Is it human nature, or is that list almost always bigger than the first? That’s OK, because if it’s a large list, you may want to pick out the 2 or 3 items that you want to do differently next time rather than trying to do everything.

There are always lessons learned in everything we do. We usually review only after major projects or events. But make it a regular tool. After every campout with my Scouts, even before we leave we talk about what we liked best and would change next time. Get it while it’s fresh. And if you do this frequently, you can take these small lessons into a big one by continuously growing and improving. In fact, Toyota does that with manufacturing. You can do this simply at home, for example “it was good that I went out and rake up the garden – next time I’ll remember to at least change shoes before I do that.”

This also happens when you get coaching – you look at what happened, what you learned and what you would change. Be your own coach. Continuously grow and improve. Take those incremental steps to drive your learning engine. And accelerate your abilities and your confidence as a result of keeping track of your learning lessons.


About hprager

Father, husband, brother and son. Delighted to be friends and mentor to so many wonderful people. Passionate about: leadership, learning and development, education, nature and the environment, youth, music, jazz, the tuba, Israeli dancing, networking and helping others, humor, laughter, swimming, hiking, the Cubs, Northwestern athletics, theater, musicals, concerts, traveling and making new friends wherever I go. Helping the world be a better place when I leave it.
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