Imagine a friend of yours applied and interviewed for a job, but didn’t get the job. They ask you, what am I supposed to learn from this? I feel like it wasn’t meant to be.
With limited details, the amount that can be learned is also limited. If all we know is that they tried and didn’t get the job, we can only form very basic assumptions, such as “you must have did bad in the interview”, or “they must have had a better candidate”.
But what if we get more information? What questions were asked in the interview? Was our friend able to answer all of the questions well? Did they know the subject of the job they were interviewing for? Did they talk to anyone who worked at the organization or for the group they were looking to work for? Were they on time, dressed in a way that best represented themselves? Did they provide any feedback? On and on the questions and thus the lessons are endless.
The important caveat is that these questions are both asked and answered by the person who failed, who is trying to learn from the situation. This viewpoint is typically a perspective that suits the individual’s best interest. If the questions are biased, the answers, no matter how true they are, also are biased.
What if all of the questions and facts we focused on were biased? For example; did the interviewer seem to be prejudice? Was there anyone of my friend’s race, gender, etc represented? Did they read that article stating how bad the ratings for the company was? Didn’t they say there was a black cat that walked in front of them right before entering the building?
On one hand, there are no bad questions. But asking an incomplete or biased set of questions, can certainly make our learning biased. If we answer the first set of questions, we may gleam some information about how we can improve or better posture ourselves for the next interview. The second set of questions, would teach us that the interviewer was possibly prejudice and the environment wasn’t appropriate for us, that there were even signs pointing to the fact that we shouldn’t take the job.
The Biased Learning Rule
The best way to escape this paradigm is to ensure that the questions we ask ourselves *always* work together to help answer the ultimate question “how can I improve and better be prepared to accomplish the goal next time?”
With that frame of mind, even the second set of questions could arguably be useful. We could adjust our communication style to someone with gender bias, or some form of prejudice. We could do a better job of making sure the job description matches; and heck we could even throw salt over our shoulder after the black cat walked by. The point is by prioritizing the right question, all of the rest of the questions fall in line.
All that is left is to then answer the questions correctly and learn from those answers. How do we know that we answered a question correctly, when there’s no answer sheet? We don’t know. We can’t know everything. The trick is to use and analyze *all* answers within reason, *always* with our biased learning rule in mind.
With this rule, we can operate in a way that allows us to never blame others, never be the victim, never make any excuses even if the situation was completely out of our control; instead we truly learn from it.