Unlearning Unlearn: Reflections on Unlearn’s first year
This summer, Unlearn celebrated its first birthday.
Usually, companies do their best to tell nothing but success stories during their first months. Starting something is supposed to seem easy, and success to be something that is nothing but self-evident.
We feel that this approach does not suit our name.
After all, we called Unlearn the way we called it because we believe in constantly reflecting our patterns, and in consciously breaking them to enable the emergence of something new. This is what we do with our clients – and, actually, this is what we do with ourselves.
We brought ourselves, with all our blind spots, dreams & desires
When you say we start a company, you usually come up with the mental image that we start something from scratch. Obviously, this image is flawed. We set up a new legal entity with a new name, yes. But apart from that, we mostly started with a lot of baggage from the last organisations we were part of. More importantly, we brought ourselves, with all our good and bad experiences, our productive and unproductive patterns, our blind spots, dreams, and desires.
The amazing thing during this first year is the process of realizing that all this needs to be looked at. Carefully examined. What of the things we brought, what of who we are, is helpful on our way forward? And, as importantly, what isn’t?
How can we change the patterns that limit us, that make us feel and seem small, against something that makes us feel alive, powerful? Something that expands our energy, and the field of influence we create by collaborating, with each other and with those around us?
We develop through the collaboration with others
It is one of the amazing characteristics of human interaction that we develop ourselves mostly through the dynamic we unfold with someone who is not our self. Our collaboration – the many shared hours of our lives – forces each of us to constantly unlearn, to constantly develop.
In his long years as freelance consultant, Hanno was the free radical, unattached and untouched. This has now changed. Klara on the other hand has during most of her working life been part of a team, quietly supporting and holding larger structures and processes without showing herself publicly. This also has changed now.
Since we created Unlearn, we are in constant contact, look at ourselves through our interaction, experience our limitations and blind spots quickly and in a transparency of – at times – brutal honesty. And each of these moments creates Unlearn as an entity; an entity that is constituted by each of us, but at the same time is more than Klara or Hanno.
All this forces us to transform, individually and as a social system, and catalyses our journeys that we have started years ago already. We both are grateful, as we see our field of influence and impact grow radically since we started this company. We complement each other, and are building an architecture that will hold many more people in the years to come.
Connecting to the future
And yet, as we said in the beginning, this is not a story of constant sunshine. There is also anger, frustration, doubt, fear, worry. We constantly realise how much our learned selves can sometimes stand in the way of what we aim to create. How much our limiting individual patterns at times limit the inspirational power of Unlearn. How our unhealed wounds and inner knots keep us from connecting to the future we aim to realise.
As frustrating as it can be: the true gems of the past months are hidden in this challenging part of our shared process. By unveiling Unlearn’s core and purpose, we unveil ourselves. By doing something which is truly shared, we must transcend our individual selves. By recreating the future, we redefine who we are. This is deeply empowering, and yet it can be tremendously hard. Still: We don’t believe there is any deeper value in notdoing this work. This is not about founding a company – this is about finding our future selves. The redefinition of who we are. Unlearning, in other words.