Char of life-long learners LO5593

Dave Birren, MB-5, 608-267-2442 (
Mon, 12 Feb 1996 11:14 CST

Linked arbitrarily to LO5328 by your host --

I'd like to contribute something to this thread that has been a central
part of my development for the past 17 years. It needs no further

Characteristics of self-renewing individuals

1. Self-educating.
2. Courage to fail; not being afraid to fall on your face. ("All
sunshine makes a desert.")
3. Continue to learn about oneself; the self becomes an object of
4. Caring about things outside oneself; the self is not the focal
point. But not to become blindly wrapped up in "causes".
5. Make and keep promises to oneself. This should be balanced with
#4. Don't be afraid of doing the difficult things ("All
sunshine...."). The idea of self-challenge.

Self-defeating behaviors and attitudes
A variety of dysfunctional activities can interfere with self-renewal.
Some examples:

Personal games (self-directed) - to avoid the pain of self-renewal

1. Hold on to old ways - safe and comfortable.
2. Avoid evaluation by not finishing things.
3. Blame others for your own feelings (projection).
4. Blame present behavior on past experiences (as an excuse).
5. Keep busy - no time for self-evaluation or for overcoming
6. Don't make decisions - avoid being held accountable.
7. Decide you're different or inadequate and don't try to
8. Perpetuate (or develop) a false image - to prevent honest

Social games (other-directed) - to manipulate others'

1. Degrade self in front of others - to elicit positive feedback.
2. Force others to agree by getting angry, crying or sulking.
3. "You trust me but I won't trust you."
4. Silence - a variation of #2?
5. Perpetuate a false image in order to take advantage of or use
another person.
6. Never get close to others and avoid building relationships so
you won't have to be honest or open.
7. Avoid being honest with people you care about to avoid hurting
their feelings (invulnerability, projection, defensiveness).

These games serve to inhibit change, growth and self-renewal.

The development of skills (outside of early childhood) depends on
whether one has decided to learn.

(Excerpted from notes taken in Kim Cameron's course on Management
Processes, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1979)


I hope someone finds this useful. I keep a copy on my refrigerator and in
my office.


David E. Birren                          Phone:   (608)267-2442
Wisconsin Dept. of Natural Resources     Fax:     (608)267-3579
Bureau of Management & Budget            E-mail:

We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time. (from T. S. Eliot's "Little Gidding")

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