Anne Bibb 0:17
Welcome back to unexpected journey. Today. Today we have, well, we have a couple of guests. For the very first time at think on unexpected journey, we have Bailey, Bailey. And we have Corey, she’s back here somewhere. We had a little glitch in the Matrix today, and the dogs joined the show. But we also have just one of the most amazing people I have ever met. The name les Joppa, who I met in South Africa. Welcome to Nelly,
Zanele Njapha 0:56
thank you so much for having me. And it’s lovely to be here.
Anne Bibb 0:59
Oh, I’m so excited to talk to you. So Zanele is known to her awesome clients as the unlearning lady. And that is how I met her. So she was giving this absolutely phenomenal speech. She’s got what she’s known as the world’s leading voice on using key and learning principles to help communicate and help companies like Visa, Coca Cola, the South African reserve bank, it to build cultures that support systemic change in transformation. That sounds like a lot. Like, I mean, your speech, drew me in. And and I’m gonna be honest. When you stepped on that stage, I disengaged, I thought, okay, gorgeous, lady, little bitty, tiny, beautiful, articulate, I’m going to multitask while I’m listening. But then you said something. And all of a sudden, I focused. So let’s start with the obvious for everybody. What, in what in the world is unlearning? Why is that important? What I mean? What is this that you’re talking about?
Zanele Njapha 2:39
Sure. So I think a really great place to start. When we think about unlearning, I like to think about my journey of how I became known as the unlearning lady and how this whole thing started. So my past life, I like to say I was a primary school teacher, I taught this the fifth grade and South Africa. So what we call grade five, for about three years, I loved it, I had been dreaming about being a teacher for a very long time. So when it happened, it was perfect. Everything worked really well. And then what I started to realize is that children was so creative, they were so good at being inquisitive, asking questions, pushing the boundaries, even when you don’t want them to, but all of the things that so many organizations were calling future skills children already had. And then I entered a speaking competition, I was still very much a teacher. But I had the dream of speaking into the speaking competition. And I started to get requests from organizations to speak about future skills. Now, here’s what started happening in my brain. But children already have future skills, how can organizations that are made up of adults grown professionals are asking for future skills. That’s when the idea around this concept of unlearning, and this concept of the need to focus on unlearning was born because literally what was happening was the realization that if we start off with the skills, what then happens in between that causes us right at the end, when we’re all professionals, and we’re in these organizations, too, they no longer have them. That’s when it became really clear that our biggest work doesn’t necessarily need to be learning per se, but peeling away the layers that then creates all of this noise between where we are and where we want to step into set. So that’s really what unlearning is it’s the capacity or the skill to let go of a perception, a way of seeing a way of doing a way of being to then grab hold of a new way of seeing things, a new way of being and a new way of doing things.
Anne Bibb 4:42
But that kind of ties in very well to where you drew me in to bet it in, in Durban. And that’s all of the sudden you put something up on the screen. And you were asking us to look at it And I can’t remember what it was, I think it was dancers. And you said, look at this dancer and Is it is it twirling left or twirling, right? Then you put up what appeared to be the same dancer, and asked if it was twirling left or twirling, right? And from almost everybody in the room. It looked like they were changing direction. And it was it was fascinating to sit there and watch. Not just myself, but everybody in the room. Kind of do a double take. And I think that moment is pretty much when you got everybody’s attention. Have you need to unlearn how you’re looking at things. And you need to focus. Yeah, yes. And it just really was amazing. How, how did you? I mean, how did you come up with that? How did you get there? How did you realize that was going to be the moment that you were going to get your audience’s attention? And I mean, because you’ve you’ve said before, people don’t take me seriously on stage until I start speaking.
Zanele Njapha 6:25
Yes, it is. It’s a gift and a curse. I love it. When you said when we had our conversation not too long ago that I need to see it as a superpower. And that exactly is what it has become for me. Because I’ve gotten that feedback consistently. People say nearly you’ve got this tiny buddy, you come up on stage. And I think, Okay, this one I can skip, I don’t have to listen to this, or listen to the next speaker. And then when I start speaking, it’s a different conversation. But you know what the significance of it is, and I really want our listeners and our viewers to hear this, the concept of unlearning is exactly that. So when you experience me, when audiences experience me, they’re actually experiencing the concept of unlearning, especially in the way that I teach it, which is that making an assumption, being aware of what the assumption is, and then challenging it. So in whatever we do, consistently, our brains are making up assumptions to help us fill in gaps and knowledge, gaps in understanding. And unless we take on a stance of awareness around what those assumptions are, and then push back at them. We don’t get taught. I mean, I don’t know about you, but I wasn’t taught to push back at assumptions when I was growing
Anne Bibb 7:33
up. No, in fact, I was actively taught to not push back. And I don’t know if it was a generational thing, or what, because this generation does not do that.
Zanele Njapha 7:42
Exactly. And here’s the interesting thing. I was actually looking every year Google releases their urines search. So for 2022, one of the highest searched phrases was can I change.dot.so? Can I change
Anne Bibb 7:57
mine? I’m gonna pause you right here. I’m gonna go back to where I say, I don’t know if it’s a generational thing because you froze. And your voice was fine, but your body froze. Okay. Okay. So now, back, and so you can restate your step, your step. Okay, so I don’t know if it’s a generational thing, or what, because I was actually actively taught to not, you know, do this, but my kids, the current generation, they don’t have a problem with it. And I find that great.
Zanele Njapha 8:33
I strongly agree, I think it definitely is a generational thing, because I had the exact same experience. But what I found is that we’ve almost gotten to a place in society globally, where people have almost given themselves permission to rethink how they approach change, which is what makes unlearning even more relevant than it’s ever been. I was actually looking at Google’s urine search for 2022, where they they published some of the highest searched phrases, words, keywords, themes, and one of the most searched phrases was can I change.dot.so? Can I change my job? Can I change my spouse? Can I change where I live? And and what that says for me is that people want and are hungry, but also excited to change. And it’s funny because my business when I launched it, our big vision is to create a world where it’s okay to change your mind. And that’s what unlearning is about. It’s about saying, I understand that. Yes, things used to be different. But I’m stepping into something new now, not with the fear of being ridiculed, but with the understanding that the only way to really do life is to change.
Anne Bibb 9:45
That I find that absolutely fascinating. Especially the whole Google search of can I change dot, dot dot, that it shouldn’t surprise me at all, in the world that we live in. Today because so many people want something different. Recently, earlier in the year we had Jenny Blumenthal on and she was talking about how everybody was burnout, and they want to pivot and they want to change and they want to do something different. And that ties in so beautifully to that. So what about, you know, unlearning? In the corporate aspect? Yeah, are there do you have some studies, you’ve worked with some pretty big names. It’s in your bio, you know, this is not something that is is private out there. And, you know, and I realized that when you’re providing some case studies that, you know, unless it’s out there, and they’ve provided permission, to provide that it’s, it’s kind of sticky, but I would love to hear some data. A lot of our listeners are fact numbers based. They really want to hear that in order to like I, I’m all in for unlearning. But I need to know that I’m gonna have the ROI. And that’s great. But can you tell us some information about one or two organizations or maybe even industries that have have shown some really great impact because of unlearning?
Zanele Njapha 11:15
Sure. So here’s where I want to start, is to clarify the positioning for the business case for unlearning. Because when we speak about unlearning, in terms of its value in business, what we’re actually talking about is we’re talking about a diverse array or a diverse, a diverse selection, maybe if we can call it that of perspectives and views. That’s literally what brings on an environment and the culture where individuals can challenge the status quo. So that I think is the basis that I want to use as we have the rest of this conversation. Because when most organizations, especially the ones that I’ve worked with, when I come in to facilitate when I come in for an intervention of any kind around the transformation initiative, most of us are still basing our success on John quarters 70% from 1995, that 70% of organizations are unsuccessful in their transformation efforts.
Anne Bibb 12:17
Can we just take a moment to say not 95? Can you believe that that was like? It feels like it was just yesterday. And we’re sitting here talking about somebody. We’re working off of data from 1995. That was 3030 years ago? Yeah. What in? No, no, I’m sorry, like 20 years ago? Yeah. Still, oh, my gosh, that was not yesterday, people. It is time to pivot is time to grow, it is time to learn something new 1995 is in the past,
Zanele Njapha 13:01
as it is. But here’s the strange thing, then. And so yes, there is a lot of that data. And that’s a lot of what we’re basing a lot of our transformation efforts on, and how that fear of unlearning and letting go comes through because we know that jumping doesn’t necessarily yield positive results. Now, what I want to jump back with is that here’s the sad news is that data still today actually shows that that number hasn’t changed that much. The Harvard Business Review actually says that 70% is quite conservative, they say that only 22% of organizations that jump into transformation initiatives actually see that change through. Now, here’s where the unlearning comes in. The unlearning then comes in to say, unless change becomes a culture that people embrace. Then whatever transformation initiatives we jump into, we try we work on they are not going to succeed, because a culture where people are excited, but also Okay, with letting go and grabbing hold is the kind of culture that sustains an organizational transformation sometimes have a large scale.
Anne Bibb 14:16
22% I know that numbers just sticking in my head only 22%
Zanele Njapha 14:21
and that was 2021. So
Anne Bibb 14:26
wow, makes you think right. It truly does make you think about you know, because almost every company that I know, is talking about actively working on or moving towards or being within a transformation, digital transformation, employee transformation, customer experience transformation. It’s all transformation. And when you think about how everybody’s talking about being within this transformation, but only At 22% of them are, that’s that blows my mind really?
Zanele Njapha 15:06
Yeah. And then to bring it down to unlearning, then so what is that? What is the value then of unlearning when it comes to organizational transformation, but also setting up our organizations for success and making sure that our customers, all stakeholders in the organization have that experience of stepping confidently into change. So one of the really exciting pieces of research I was looking at not too long ago, it was was published by Korn Ferry, and they said that 79% individuals or other employees within an organization are 79% more likely to have cat let me rephrase that one. Poor performing organizations are 79% more likely to have less self awareness, then organizations that perform better so organizations with a higher rate of return, are 79% more likely to be successful than those who have low self awareness. And here’s why that’s important is because unlearning starts with that self awareness. So when individuals within a given team, whether it’s the leadership team, specifically, or individuals on the ground, who interact directly with our customers, and clients are self aware and understanding who they are, how they wish to grow, how they wish to expand, but also how they can create that that link between the organization’s goals and their own personal goals, actually contributes to not just the success of the organization at the organizational level, but even at the level of the stock market and the value of the organization overall.
Anne Bibb 16:51
Incredible that is absolutely, you know, I, I think more businesses really need to look at this, and I’m going to take that that back. It’s not more businesses, more leaders, more leaders need to look at this. And it’s, it’s also an introspective thing from an individual level. Because when you really look at it, it’s leaders that are individually leading businesses. But before we start talking about individuals, I want to give everybody an opportunity to get to know as an ally, and really ask a couple of questions. Have you ever played the game this or that?
Zanele Njapha 17:35
No, not that I remember. Okay. It’s not scary. It’s
Anne Bibb 17:39
not terrifying. I’m gonna give you two words or two phrases, and then you tell me which one you prefer. And, and why. So, you know, I’ll start, I’ll start easy for you. Because you’re the unlearning lady. Thank you. Visual Learning, or for verbal learning.
Zanele Njapha 18:01
Visual, definitely hands down. Why? I have always been a visual learner, I, I remember putting up posters in my bedroom. When I was in high school to study, I would put up all of these posters, I needed to have my goals up somewhere where I could see them. It just makes so much sense for me, it just was so so easy to do things that way.
Anne Bibb 18:23
That makes sense. And that could be one of the reasons why your presentation was so phenomenal. And it had that visual impact that really drew people in. So that makes so much sense now. All right. Now let’s go a little bit outside of learning. Attend a party or host a party. Oh.
Zanele Njapha 18:51
I am a an obsessed introvert. I know and I often discourage putting ourselves in boxes but dang
Anne Bibb 18:59
it oh was not an option. Staying at home is not an option here.
Zanele Njapha 19:05
So I’d rather attend because if I’m hosting, then I’m going to have to be running around the entire time, at least as far as I’ve seen hosts do. So I’ll attend definitely.
Anne Bibb 19:16
Okay. Yes. Because then you can make an early exit right? Like you can arrive late you can say hello, you can make your little rounds make sure a few people see you take a take a picture so you could prove that you were there. posted on Instagram proof of life at the party. And then to me, you may or may not be speaking to somebody that has or has not done that before.
Zanele Njapha 19:49
I’m not saying anything.
Anne Bibb 19:52
It takes one to recognize one right see this we should make a little Hiva fun had these things? Oh, all right. So back to him and learning and how it really you know where we were talking about from a business perspective, but it really ties to individuals. So I’m learning as much as we sit here and say, and businesses hire us, but it really ties into individual level. So how does it actually impact individuals when they embrace unlearning?
Zanele Njapha 20:40
I love this question, because it ties back to something that we’ve already touched on, which is that idea of mental flexibility. So that’s the big idea behind unlearning. I often joke around with the teams that I work with an eye say, when we strategize, when we sit in a strategy conversation, everybody brings the brain that they’ve trained, nobody is going to get an opportunity to borrow someone else’s brain, bring it to the room. And then after the strategy session, you return it to the person, everyone brings the flexibility or the level of mental flexibility that they have trained themselves to. And that’s why unless I’m learning becomes a culture at a personal level, we almost can’t call on it. And that’s where that comes in there. I mean, there’s interesting data now that was published by Alzheimer’s dot gov, that says that individuals who practice consistent mental flexibility have less of a chance of contracting degenerative illnesses, like your Alzheimer’s, but also your dementia as well, which is profound research. And I often say to people, if you’re not going to do it for your company, do it for yourself, build that mental flexibility by doing really three key things that I share that are super easy, but it’s all about allowing your brain to consistently be stimulated differently, and allow your brain to have a myriad of inputs so that when it’s time for you to make a decision to create links to synthesize, you’ve got always think about it as this beautiful array of insights and experiences that you can draw from so that when you have a conversation, when you make a conclusion, it’s it’s almost made up of all of these different aspects that you can touch on.
Anne Bibb 22:28
I recently heard, and this is going a little bit outside of unlearning. But you mentioned Alzheimer’s and dementia. And that hits very close to home for me. My several people in my family married in had had Alzheimer’s, Mike, my mother in law has dementia. And I was listening to something a podcast I think, shocking. And they said something about how signers, the health benefits of signers actually benefit the mental health of and reduces the likelihood of Alzheimer’s and dementia, dementia. And I found that incredibly interesting. And, and I wonder, I’m not a doctor, you know, this is this is something I just read or just heard. And I wonder how that would tie in to the mental health benefits of improving your brain. They said something about it reducing plaque and improving the blood flow in your brain. The more is three to five times a week. And then your ability to think cognitive in a better cognitive fashion, your ability to unlearn your ability to improve from a learning capacity as well. So I wonder how it all ties in together. I’m just I’m very curious about it.
Zanele Njapha 24:00
Sure. So I do work as a neuro coach. I’m a certified neuro coach. And that’s the that side that I bring into the work that I do with my clients. And I like to often reflect on the story of Einstein, how when when Einstein passed away, the world got a great opportunity to, you know, crack open his, his gray matter and really find out what was going on. But the most interesting insight that I think it’s important for us to take away from that particular case is how the conclusion was that Einstein had a beautiful number of these dendritic connections within his gray matter. So basically, all that that means is that he had had such a vast number of experiences that were always contrary to each other. So he had so many hobbies. He went to all of these different restaurants and ate all these different foods. He exposed himself to nature of different kinds. So that when he said to do whatever it was he was doing, he had what was called what’s known as fluid knowledge. So fluid knowledge is knowledge that you pick on, you could be an engineer. But when you perform any engineering tasks or solve any problems, you draw from this space you draw from nature you draw from accounting, it’s the most beautiful thing. And that’s what they found. And that’s a reason why I would say and at least from my end, and what I teach, and what I’ve learned, is that that’s the value of unlearning. Unlearning means putting yourself in situations where you’re exposed to contrary ideas, contrary voices, but understanding just how much value there is in that beautiful pull, push kind of contrast, in order to make decisions to innovate, but also, especially to think creatively, which I think is definitely one of the biggest advantages to it.
Anne Bibb 25:52
Do you think it would be fair to say that Einstein was a professional and learner?
Zanele Njapha 25:57
Hmm. In so many words, but
Anne Bibb 26:02
I mean, come on,
Zanele Njapha 26:05
beautifully said especially because that’s actually how scientists think the scientific method is not going out to prove something correct. But to disprove it. And that is a beautiful insight around unlearning, when we go out with our beliefs and our perspectives, with the intention to disprove them, then we take on a completely different perspective around the things that we think are true. And the things that we think aren’t as well.
Anne Bibb 26:31
I love that. So what do you think? Actually, I’m going to try one view that I haven’t tried before. Let me just see this real quick. No? Nope. Oh, I don’t like that. That’s pretty.
Zanele Njapha 26:52
You don’t like that one.
Anne Bibb 26:56
Did you pick? Okay, I think we’re stuck with what we got. I wanted to try one, but it’s not coming up.
Anne Bibb 27:08
So we’ll just we’ll just go with what we have. When it comes to individuals that you’re working with, or that you’ve talked to, or you’ve done lessons with, what’s the biggest challenge that you’ve run into, from individuals being resistant? To unlearning?
Zanele Njapha 27:31
That is a beautiful question. I think it’s it’s two things. And I use these two challenges almost as a basis to advise leaders to work with organizations so that they can support individuals. And the two really are, the first one is grieving. And the second one is not knowing why. The first one being grieving. One of the most important things that I found a key to understand during change during transitions is that individuals when they transform and transition or letting go of something, so there’s a sense of loss and detachment there. Because think about it. And I’d like to invite the listener and the viewer to think about this as well, when you think about the last job you had or maybe the last position you held at any given organization in your own business. And what you have now when you let go of the other one, I’d like you to think about what that means. Because it wasn’t just a job, it wasn’t just a position. But that position had almost been tied into different parts of your life, it meant something to you, it was associated with what you could provide your children how far you had to drive, what you spent on gas every month. So there’s that beautiful, almost letters that gets created between our jobs or what we’re losing and who we are our sense of identity. That’s why that first part or that first challenge is where most organizations and leaders missed the mark when they’re just rushing everyone. Okay, let’s all unlearn jumping to the next thing we need to do now. Now now, instead of allowing teams and individuals to grieve, because there’s a process there of having lost something that was dear, that had been tapped into the most dear parts of our lives. So allow individuals in your team to grieve, I often like to suggest to the idea of maybe sitting down as a team and reflecting on how great things used to be when you used to use that system, or when this leader used to be around or when we were still at the office take an opportunity to just play around with that thought so that individuals can process the book navigating transitions by William Bridges says that a transition and a change are two different things. Change is the system when all the processes have been put in place, but the transition is what people need to do in here and in here. So you might not be if you’re listening, you might not be able to see that so in your heart and and psychologically in your brain as well, we
Anne Bibb 30:02
have, we have to remember that this is on YouTube, Spotify podcasts, like people could be watching, and seeing the dogs walk behind me, but they could also just be listening to us and hopefully not hearing a dog bark.
Zanele Njapha 30:18
So that’s the first part. It’s that that grieving. And that’s one of the biggest challenges that I consistently find. And this could be individuals that are going through an the unlearning process in their personal lives, letting go of a perception of a sense of self sabotage that they’ve been facing consistently. So that’s the first one. And then the other one is understanding why this one, I find to be a lot more relevant with professionals that are being asked by their organizations to transition to let go of, I’ll give you an example that I had quite a lot of last year, a little less now. But quite a bit of organizations were inviting me into seasonally, they don’t want to come back to the office come and help us. Let’s help everyone unlearn working from home, get them to jump back in, because we need to get our numbers looking good. And that was a very interesting call. But what happened there is that second issue, telling people why helping people to understand not just why coming back to the office, or whatever transition it is, is good for not just the organization, but good for them. Because at the end of the day, and I’d like to hear your thoughts on this, individuals are our people, human beings are at their very center, not in a selfish way, but self serving, we want to look after ourselves. That’s why if you hear a loud sound, you jump because you’re thinking, Am I going to die? And so even if the organization, the CEO, the CEO says, Hey, everyone, it’s time to jump and do this particular thing. Jump into this project, the first question that we ask ourselves, what’s in it for me? How is that going to help me? How is that going to help me serve my grandmother who’s in an old age home the way that I still serve her at the moment, or better? People are asking the questions of how change affects them at a personal level. And that is the second challenge that I find organizations don’t quite speak to often enough.
Anne Bibb 32:18
Here, we call that the wisdom, the what’s in it, for me the wisdom. And I don’t think that’s anything new. That’s something that’s been around for a very long time, as you always have to answer for the wisdom. And it’s very rare to come across a situation where you don’t have to answer the wisdom that you find a servant leader, that is truly a servant leader, that is there, too, that thinks just about their people that will actually give up their job for others that will actually do something that impacts their life negatively. For other people. It happens, and it happens more than we like to think. But that is not the norm. The norm is that right now in the world. People want to know what, how it’s going to impact their life. And this is strictly one of the things that I have observed. And that is that, because over the especially in the United States, over the last several decades, corporations and businesses have really pushed the boundaries beyond the boundaries of what they can get out of employees. So now people are saying, we’re going to set our boundaries, and we’re going to stick to them. And if you want us to step out of our boundaries, what is in it for me? Is it a pay raise? It is a title? Is it like, what is it? Because they have been extended outside of those boundaries? And that’s why we’re having so much corporate burnout at this point.
Zanele Njapha 34:20
Yeah, I strongly agree. Yeah, I hear the same conversation. All the time. I mean, I attend conferences for a living, but every now and again, when it’s time to have lunch, that’s the conversation we’re having. Everyone is so tired, we’re more productive than we’ve ever been. But we are more tired. We are more burnt out. We are more fatigued than we’ve ever been as well.
Anne Bibb 34:43
And I think that it comes down to and I find it interesting that so many and I think you’re going to continue to get people coming and asking you to have people unlearn how to work at home and relearn how to work at the office. But I find that it Interesting and people ask, Why have they been so productive working at home? It’s because individuals have to learn how to set boundaries to work at home, and still respect the boundary that your work hour ends at five o’clock. That’s one reason. The other reason is that they’re not having the interruption of the drive by desk, stopping and talking. They’re also not having the hallway conversations that extend returning to the desk, like they are sitting at their desk actually working. And that has increased a lot of productivity during this time of working from home, if we return to the office, and there is nothing with work wrong with working from the office, a lot of people work better from the office and those individuals absolutely should. And I am a strong believer of let people work where they’re going to be successful. If if you work better in an office, go work in an office, if you work better at home, work from home, if you work better part time in an office part time at home, go hybrid, but work where you’re going to be successful if you need to change it up, change it up. But the productivity has to do with the focus and your ability to focus in the setting that you’re in. Yeah. So that. And I think that that also ties into learning.
Zanele Njapha 36:38
Yes, it does, and unlearning as well, I was actually having an interesting conversation with a team at the team at Aldi for a podcast that they did to promote their electric vehicles in South Africa. And one of the questions they asked us, What do you think is the future of the office? And not just because I’m in my 20s. But I responded with no office at all. Because often what we do, and this is one of the biggest conversations I have with organizations, one of the biggest things we do is we go if we are thinking about the future, how do we improve what we have now, when in actual fact that isn’t necessarily the question to be asking. The question to be asking is going back to some of the pivotal characteristics, which is why I love what you mentioned, understanding that the office in and of itself is just a tool that helps us helps us to achieve something else. So what are the bigger objectives around work? What is it? Is it? Is it exactly that we want to achieve certain objectives that as long as those are done, everything is fine? Or what is it really, instead of taking all the focus and putting it on the office, and almost making the mistake of not understanding why it is that we have the office in the first place, but also how it tends to serve us and not seeing it as a tool. So I think that that’s a very important distinction to make. So I really love that you brought that in because it triggers that unlearning conference session. Because unlearning says talent. We’ve always seen things. Yes, we’ve always gone to the office. But does it still mean the same thing in the current context that it used to?
Anne Bibb 38:17
I think that you might have froze a little bit because your voice just got off your face. Oh, okay. I hear what you’re saying. And it’s off now. Hold on. Just one second. Okay. Yep, it’s still
Zanele Njapha 38:40
how is it now?
Anne Bibb 38:42
Can you try that again?
Zanele Njapha 38:44
How is this now? It’s so weird on my end, it looks like it’s synced.
Anne Bibb 38:50
I think you’re resynced now Okay. Hold on one second. Sure. husband just got home on my ask him to get the girls because they hear him.
Anne Bibb 39:21
And then I think we’re going to be done in about 10 minutes
Zanele Njapha 39:29
Are you still enjoying these? I remember when I had my podcast, I would have dips. I enjoyed the conversations. But I think maybe I should have outsourced some of the admin like I did towards the end. But which part of the stream Do you enjoy the most? Maybe it’s
Anne Bibb 39:45
so I know it’s interesting that you say that? Because I love the conversation. And let’s pick that conversation up after we stopped recording
Anne Bibb 40:05
So what were we just talking about?
Zanele Njapha 40:09
You were saying that there was no sync between the voice and so I don’t know if you wanted to go back to that. Just yeah. What
Anne Bibb 40:16
were we saying before we before you lost sync?
Zanele Njapha 40:19
I was adding to the comment that you made about the office. That was the big
Anne Bibb 40:26
three in this mode or the other mode.
Zanele Njapha 40:29
We were in this mode. We were still exactly like this.
Anne Bibb 40:31
Yeah. Pick it back up on wherever you were.
Zanele Njapha 40:35
Let me see. And I don’t know where I froze. So that’s the
Anne Bibb 40:39
Yeah, just just just go with the flow. I’ll edit it later.
Zanele Njapha 40:44
Okay, okay. Oh, my goodness, you poor thing. Huh? Okay, I’ll take it from from when I use the Audi example. And we can even start it off from there. Yeah, perfect. I think it’s so interesting what you are mentioning, because it reminds me of a conversation that I had on a podcast that Audi was doing when they were launching their electric vehicles in South Africa. And the question came, what do you think is the future of the office and I went, oh, goodness, no office at all. And it sounded a bit cheeky at the time, but I think it goes towards what you’re saying. And it’s the exact same thing that unlearning is about saying? How do we create a culture where we are consistently re evaluating what we use the tools we have the way we do business, the protocols that serve us the systems that we have to understand whether or not they’re still relevant for the objectives we want to serve. And going back to that idea of the office, the objective is a lot of the time to actually get things done. Now, the tool of the office does exist as a tool, but how does it serve us today in the current context, and that’s just a little shift that is so important to make, especially when it comes to our work contexts, because we find that we no longer serve our clients, but also our team in the same way, when we fail to make that reevaluation, a culture that people know is consistently happening, and that we can execute.
Anne Bibb 42:16
You know, it’s interesting, because it has come up on literally almost, I shouldn’t say literally, but almost every single episode, that leadership training was a huge Miss across the pandemic, and work at home. And that is, working home wasn’t a failure. Work at Home isn’t a failure. remote work is not a failure, training leadership, how to lead and manage work remotely. That was the mess. And you just said basically the same thing in a different way. People need to learn how to lead people need to learn how to manage, they need to learn so many things and unlearn so many things about that whole system. Yeah. So that that is a is a consistent message across the board.
Zanele Njapha 43:18
Yeah. And one final thing to add to that is that as leaders go through that process, one of the most important things around unlearning is understanding that you will always be experimenting and be okay with that and be fine with and understand that there isn’t necessarily a wrong and a right. But it’s what suits the current context. So experiment and allow that process to always be happening, but in an exciting way.
Anne Bibb 43:44
You just said something I want to kind of go after. Because this is one thing that I think a lot of a lot of higher. C C suite individuals may have an individual have an issue with unlearning. Because they feel like it means that they’re wrong. Does unlearning something mean you’re wrong?
Zanele Njapha 44:15
That is a very good question. And learning something means that you’ve realized that there’s a better way for right now. And the reason I use better way is because it’s away from the trigger of right and wrong, right and wrong are very triggering words because they mean I’m better you’re not. This is how we do things you stay there it almost separates individuals but also separates us into little packets as well. So when we say better for the context better suited for right now. Then it says that we can always change because the situation around us is consistently changing. There’s there’s a different energy there that like you said I found so many C suite leaders have trouble with but he Here’s the thing, and this is going back to what you said earlier on in this conversation. They want to, they want to, and many of us don’t know it. But the reason why they can’t is because at a bigger systemic level, the bigger system, which I won’t say too much about, but the biggest system has not yet been shaped in such a way that people can be okay with making mistakes, trying things out at the expense of the business if you if you know where I’m going with that.
Anne Bibb 45:32
So what are some signs that say I’m, say I’m in a C suite, or in an executive level position in an organization? And I’m, I need to see, I need to know what signs to look for, that we, as an organization might need to unlearn. What am I? What am I looking for?
Zanele Njapha 46:02
So one of the things that could tell you that it’s time for your organization to unlearn is definitely firstly, looking at your numbers. But maybe not going too deeply into that one of the biggest things that will tell you is understanding what your vision is for the current maybe financial year, so to speak. So look at what your strategic intentions or goals are, and then have a look at how the individuals in your team are responding to that. Does it look like you’re on track towards that? But also, is there any resistance? So are you getting the responses when you have conversations with your team conversations with your customers and clients that look like they could hinder or get in the way of whatever it is that the strategic goal is, for example, if by the end of this year 2023, you would like all of the individuals in your team that were office space to be completely back in the office. But so far based on the data and whatever it is you’re tracking, it looks like you’re not going to be reaching that goal, for example, that is a clear sign that there’s something that needs to be unlearned there, but not necessarily that people need to unlearn back to what we were saying, coming back to the office, or they need to unlearn working from home, there’s something else there that needs to be done. Maybe the unlearning is what is the purpose of the office? Do we still need it? Can we work around a new hybrid working model that then works for outcome where our company is right now?
Anne Bibb 47:31
And as an individual, if I’m in this position, and I see these things, but I’m not quite at that level? How do I present this to my leaders?
Zanele Njapha 47:48
That’s a very tricky one. That’s always a very, very tricky one. So one of the things that I always say, start off with your line manager, there is the practical technical part of this. But then there’s also the approach parts of this. So the technical parts of speak to your line manager, have a conversation. But then there’s also how you do it, when most of us come across any resistance that we feel around a change that’s been implemented in the organization, often we come at it with, you know, guns blazing, because we’re going I don’t want to see this, this is disruptive for me as an individual, but also for for fellow team members. So there’s the approach how you approach it, and in speaking to the correct individuals and addressing it in such a way that it becomes clear how not only you are suffering, but also how the organization in the long term starts to suffer. Because unfortunately, this is where we still are in corporate culture where something has to make sense both how it’s affecting individuals, but also how the organization in the long term along with the organization’s strategic goals are going to get affected by whatever it is that’s happening.
Anne Bibb 48:58
Absolutely. So if, if you’re talking to that individual right now, and they’re having this realization that I think I need to do this, I think I need to unlearn I realized that I have not been receptive to this, but I’m scared like I I’m too scared to take that step. What would you say to that person right now on an individual level? To let them know that it’s okay. I mean, talk to that individual directly. Wow,
Zanele Njapha 49:38
oh, goodness, and I can almost feel the emotion I don’t know. And it feels like you might have you probably really empathetic but the way that you say it that really helped me to feel some of those emotions. It’s so many individuals are feeling across a range of different organizations. And one of the reasons why they feel like that is because they feel almost powerless within the system to influence any kind of change. So what I would say to that individual is, is firstly, to understand that it’s okay that they’ve recognized this. Because often there is a lot of guilt and shame that’s associated with being dissatisfied with a change. And the first thing to do is free yourself of any kind of guilt around feeling the way that you feel. And understand that the reason why you have any kind of resistance is because there’s a misalignment between what you see for yourself and what the organization sees for themselves, or for the bigger hole, which is the company itself. So once once that has been sorted, then let’s let’s talk about what you can possibly do. Maybe you want to start with having, like I mentioned earlier on a conversation with your line manager, do you have someone that you trust within the organization that you could book, maybe a 15 minute, 30 minute call with and sit down and have a conversation, when it is time to have the conversation? Start off by telling them how long you felt this way? Are there specific instances within your journey with the company maybe relating to the change itself, that you can start to touch on as you have that conversation with them, make sure you map those out. Consider even bringing in the voices of other individuals on the team don’t name and shame if you don’t have permission to do so but maybe mentioned that this is something we’ve been talking about during such and such a meeting, this was brought up, make sure that you come up or into the meeting with with your ducks in a row so that the individual you’re speaking to understand that this is something that they can take further on as well. And then to top it all off, like I mentioned earlier on, put something together around how you see this dissatisfaction or maybe your unlearning journey, you want to unlearn you’d like the organization to potentially invest in this. Or maybe you feel like the organization needs to unlearn, map out how if that doesn’t actually get done, it could potentially affect the organization, whether that means that the organization has a high turnover, maybe that means the organization loses time loses money in any kind of way, map that out, so that the issue becomes not just about you as an individual, because yes, you do matter. But it also starts to become about the organization at a much larger systemic level.
Anne Bibb 52:18
Amazing. So how would people get in touch with you if they wanted to.
Zanele Njapha 52:31
So there’s a range of different ways, but one of the best ones is to go over to Zanelli jabra.com, which is my website. I’m also an inst. I live let me be honest, I live on Instagram. So the unlearning lady might be the easiest one for people to find me on there as well. But those are really the two best places. LinkedIn also works. I’m on LinkedIn as an alien Jeopardy and learning lady there as well. But if you search for me on Google, you should be able to connect with me in a way that suits you.
Anne Bibb 53:03
And as always, we will have links in the description of the show for all of our guests that are listening today. Because we want you to be able to connect with an LA and learn how to learn. Sincerely, thank you so much for joining us. It has been a pleasure. And I just we’re gonna stay in touch. And I’m sure you’ll be on the show again, at some point. So thank you, everybody, for joining us this week on unexpected journey. We look forward to seeing you again next week. Alright, I’m not going to stop recording it because I want to look at one thing. Yes. And then I want to ask you a question
Anne Bibb 53:56
when do I have you?
Anne Bibb 54:21
So is there a specific date that you wanted your episode to air? No, not at all. Would you be okay if I aired it during Black History Month? Sure. That’s fine. Okay. In which case, let’s see here. Then it will I will figure out a way to air it sometime in February, because that is Black History Month in the United States.
Zanele Njapha 54:56
Cool. No, that sounds good. That would be an honor. So
Anne Bibb 55:04
let’s just kind of do the intro again. Where I do welcome. And maybe we say, you know, welcome to black or something about Black History Month, if you want to, or do we just want to include it in black history month?
Zanele Njapha 55:22
Yeah, maybe let’s let’s just include it, just
Anne Bibb 55:25
include it, then we will just include it. I’m going to stop recording, give me just a moment, and then we’ll have that other conversation. Sure.
Zanele Njapha 55:33
Okay, not maybe let’s not do we was thinking about something
Anne Bibb 55:37
else need to record anything else.
Zanele Njapha 55:40
I was just thinking about something else. It’s just a little framework, because I noticed when we were speaking about individuals, I didn’t really share much of a tip around something that they can practically do to build that mental flexibility. We talked about Einstein, and then I went off on a tangent and it was a horrible,
Anne Bibb 55:56
you know, what? Do we need you big or like this?
Zanele Njapha 56:00
We can be like this, it I’ll make it really short. And then maybe I’ll call you into to ask maybe for your thoughts. Okay. Okay. Okay, great. Yeah, so on that on that idea, then, a framework that I teach for individuals to build mental flexibility. And I’d love to invite our listeners and viewers to do the exact same. It’s called Switch, shift shuffle. And all it is is three different ways to organize your environment so that you are consistently being stimulated in a range of different ways to think differently, to perceive differently, but also to show up in a brand new way. So the very first one switch, switch is all about thinking about the things that you do, almost without thinking about it, I like to think of it as switching the hand that you brush your teeth with switching the hand you brush your hair with. So think about the things that almost happened without thinking instinctively. As soon as you do any of those things. Maybe for the rest of today, stop and ask yourself, What’s another way to do what I’m about to do no to do now. So I was about to grab my water, I can ask myself, Oh, I often grab it with this hand, or it’s always sitting on the side of the desk, something as tiny as that. So that switch. And then shift is the next one. Shift is all about our environments. I’m a little bit of shame to say this here. And but I’m going to say this. For a very long time I had my bedroom, my living room arranged in the exact same way, for possibly more than 10 years, I tend to like my stability. But when I realized just how much I can leverage my environment for consistent stimulation, everything changed. So this is what I want people to take seriously, is
Anne Bibb 57:49
this why I like to change the curtains in my office every so often.
Zanele Njapha 57:53
You You are amazing.
Anne Bibb 57:56
Like I do, I mean, I’ve had these curtains a little bit longer than I usually do. I do, Joe, that that’s fascinating. So that’s shift
Zanele Njapha 58:06
shift is all about moving your environments around, I often advise people start with something like a pot plant, just move that common pot plant that you have in that same corner all the time to a different corner, and then one thing and then maybe every two months to something small, that allows you to consistently be re finding and almost reapply monetizing to your environment. Now you don’t want to do it to a level where you’re getting confused every time you walk into your house because the brain does need a sense of safety, a sense of familiarity. So that’s the second one. And then the very last one, switch shift shuffle, shuffle is all about your day to day routines. Often when we look at our diaries, we’ll find out we’re eating the same thing for breakfast, we are starting at the gym at eight o’clock every day, we are sleeping at the same time. That’s good because your circadian rhythm is really important. But certain things are exactly the same. All the time, we see the same people we go to the same coffee shop, because we just love the way they do coffee and no one else does it like them.
Anne Bibb 59:10
But this is why I’m a fan of flexible work right? Like and why I always tell my team. I don’t care when you work, or what you know, just as long as you get your job done. And it’s done correctly. Do it when you feel like you’re going to be most successful the same place like we were talking about where also when sometimes I’m in my office working at eight o’clock at night because I’m feeling productive. Other times two o’clock in the afternoon. That’s the shuffle.
Zanele Njapha 59:48
Yes, it is one particular organization I worked with and I’d love to hear your thoughts. Does a tell me something new presentation. So every two weeks they invite one person from the team to just speak about a topic that’s completely unrelated. Now, they’re not the only organization that does this. But I found out quite a few of them do speak about something that has nothing to do with the work that we do at the organization or the work we do in this team. Talk about plants, talk about woodwork, something completely different. Teach us something that you love, but you love outside of work. And let’s see how that influences how we innovate, and how we think creatively. Any thoughts on those three tips?
Anne Bibb 1:00:28
I love it and say, I will tell you this. When this episode airs, keep a close watch on the YouTube channel. So we do post this episode. on YouTube. It’s on Apple. It’s on Spotify. It’s on Google podcasts. But for some reason, our YouTube subscribers are incredibly active in the comments. And so I’m going to ask you guys right now. comment with regard to our okay, I’m forgot the first switch. Switch. Shift and shuffle Swift. Yes. Switch, shift, shuffle, and tell us how you do all three of those things in the comments. And I know I’m gonna be watching and I’m gonna tell you right now. I’m I’m betting Sunil is going to be watching as well. And you might get some responses from both of us on our YouTube channel when this episode airs. So keep a watch. Tell us how you switch shift and shuffle and we will be responding back to you. Hey, okay,
Zanele Njapha 1:01:44
thank you. Beautiful.