We spend a lot of time teaching leaders what to do.We don’t spend enough time teaching leaders what to stop.Half the leaders I have met don’t need to learn what to do.They need to learn what to stop.—Peter Drucker

There’s an ageless fable that perfectly describes the paradox of unlearning. To gain new knowledge and move forward, we need to first let go of old knowledge that holds us back. In their book Zen Flesh Zen Bones—a compilation of Zen and pre-Zen writings—Paul Reps and Nyogen Senzaki recount the fable “A Cup of Tea”:

Nan-in, a Japanese master during the Meiji era (1868–1912), received a university professor who came to inquire about Zen.

Nan-in served tea. He poured his visitor’s cup full, and then kept on pouring.

The professor ...

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