capitalization learning vs. compensation learning

October 14, 2013

David and Goliath book coverGood morning – I hope your week is getting off to a great start. It was a very nice weekend for our family. Beautiful weekend and we were able to have some enjoyable times together.

In his book David and Goliath, Malcolm Gladwell makes the distinction between what he calls capitalization learning versus compensation learning. Capitalization learning is what most of us really enjoy. It is learning that is building on our natural strengths. He gives the example of Tiger Woods – he found that golf suited him, so he enjoyed practice so he became better at golf and practiced more and became even better and so on. It became a virtuous cycle.

Now there is the compensation learning that comes from what Gladwell calls a desirable difficulty. A desirable difficulty is a challenge that requires you to grow to overcome that challenge in ways that are beneficial to your overall life. One that he mentions is dyslexia. In his book he gives several examples of people, that because of the lessons they learned in dealing with dyslexia, they surpassed many other “normal” people in regards to success in life.

These people succeeded because they have learned the value of compensation learning. Compensation learning is hard work. It is usually learning that occurs in our areas of weakness – not our strengths. We become aware of a weakness in our lives so we set about compensation learning to deal with that weakness. As it is hard work, often very hard work, most of us avoid it and thus miss out on our potential. I like the following quote from the book:

“. . . those who can are better off than they would have been otherwise, because what is learned out of necessity is inevitably more powerful than the learning that comes easily.”

So – what is it that you need to learn to have greater impact, but that you are avoiding because it is hard? Start engaging in learning what is hard for you so that you will grow into even greater effectiveness and thus greater impact.

Have a great week!
BG