Leading Blog






08.22.22

Are You a Learner or a Judger?

Marilee Adams

IN SITUATION after situation, we are faced with the choice of adopting a Learner mindset or a Judger mindset. The Judger mindset comes quite naturally to us. We all do it. And we have Learner moments as well.

The Learner mindset opens us up to possibilities while the Judger mindset leaves us, at the very least, in an unproductive state. The Learner mindset is a choice. The Judger mindset is a reaction to our circumstances.

The trick is to be mindful of the path we are on and make the appropriate adjustment. We make that adjustment by changing the questions we are asking. That is the premise behind Marilee Adams’ book, Change Your Questions, Change Your Life.

Marilee offers a helpful Choice Map to help us to zoom out and look at where we are at any given time and make the most productive choice. As a leader and coach, it is important to understand that “you can’t help anyone from a Judger place.”

Choice Map

Think of the Choice Map as a self-coaching tool that helps us to be more aware, and that helps us chart more effective paths through our lives—and for getting better outcomes in whatever we do.

We’re making choices moment by moment by moment though we don’t always recognize it. Many of our choices may be embodied within routines or habits we’ve developed over the years, some of them so necessary in our everyday lives that er barely notice they were once choices.

Most of the time, we’re shifting back and forth between Learner and Judger mindsets, barely aware we have any control or choice. Much of what we experience can just seem true or real or logical to us. We go along as if what we experience is the way things are. Real choice begins when we are mindful enough to observe our own thoughts and feelings as well as the language we use to express them.

It is worth rereading that last paragraph. We struggle to grow because, as she writes, “Much of what we experience can just seem true or real or logical to us. We go along as if what we experience is the way things are.” To lead is to be aware of that fact.

When there is conflict, the Judger element is there. “Whenever two people find themselves in conflict, whoever wakes up to their own Judger has the ability to turn the situation around.”

Judgers and Learners ask different questions. If you are on a Judger path, you need to change your questions to switch to the Learner path.

Judger questions constricting questions and sound like this:

What’s wrong with me?
Whose fault is it?
Why am I a failure?
Why can’t I do anything right?
Why are they so clueless and frustrating?
Haven’t we already been there, don’t that?
Why bother?

On the other hand, Learner questions are expansive, energizing questions that sound like this:

What happened?
What do I want?
What’s useful about this?
What can I learn?
What’s the other person thinking, feeling, and wanting?
What are my choices?
What’s best to do now?
What’s possible?

With the Judger agenda, the costs can be tremendous. The future can only be a recycled version of the past. If you’re working from the Learner program the power is on. The juices is flowing. You can make a new future for yourself.

Marilee makes an important distinction between having good judgment and being judgmental. Good judgement is essential, but judgmentalism is destructive. “Exercising judgment is about thinking things through and making informed choices.” But being judgmental is about “fault-finding or being critical or dwelling on the negative.” She adds that the “Judger mindset is the enemy of good judgment.” When you think Judger, think judgmental.

If we can accept the fact that we gravitate to Judger and choose Learner, we can make progress by changing the questions—asking switcher questions like: Am I in Judger mode? Is this what I want? Ho else can I think about this?

Marilee has also developed a workbook to help work through triggering situations and adapt and develop a learner mindset. It’s a helpful companion to the book.

In the workbook, she outlines the Judger and Learner attributes. The chart below is very useful in understanding the change your questions, change your life program.

Judger vs Learner

Judgmentalism limits our leadership. Our influence is diminished as it puts distance between ourselves and others.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 06:40 AM
| Comments (0) | This post is about Personal Development



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