Another concept from Trevor Ragan’s Train Ugly workshop centered around the learning opportunities that occur depending upon where we put our focus.

Choice one is to focus on outcomes – which results in an emphasis on looking good. People who choose this path often take the easy road because failure does not make them look good and that is the goal. Challenges are seen as threats and people with an outcomes focus go to great length to avoid them. If something has the potential to make you look bad, they avoid it, and thus miss out on great learning opportunities.

Choice two is to have a learner focus – which results in an emphasis on getting better. People who choose this path see challenges and failure as an opportunity to learn, so they seek more difficult experiences and learn more from them. Trevor called this “thinking like a scientist” – trying something and learning from the process more than the outcome. Failure is one more repetition in building your learner muscle.

Depending on which focus we choose, how we experience things and what we learn totally changes.

I thought about how this concept relates to the growth in STEM education. There has been a great push in STEM-related activities for children – everything from robotics teams to new Girl Scout badges – all in the quest to encourage more people to go into science or technology as careers. We certainly need that, but maybe a better outcome is that we are teaching more children how to think like a scientist. By pushing experimentation and a focus on process, we are helping people in all fields embrace learning and personal growth.

Maybe you work outside the STEM fields, but choose to think like a scientist. Work hard to create a culture in your organization that values getting better more than it does the initial outcome. By placing your focus on getting better, you inherently will get better, even if some of your attempts blow up along the way.

To learn more, see



About the Author leadership dots by dr. beth triplett

Dr. beth triplett is the owner of leadership dots, offering coaching, training and consulting for new supervisors. She also shares daily lessons on her leadershipdots blog. Her work is based on the leadership dots philosophy that change happens through the intentional connecting of small steps in the short term to the big picture in the long term.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.