Learning Is Hard: Hire Employees With A Learning Scale Of 10

By Spicer Matthews

I have been in the process of some major self reflection lately. Typical me, everything I conclude I want to translate to the business world. Give me a moment to setup my thought and then I will connect it back to the business world.

Point blank, learning is hard. Learning requires pain. Learning requires dedication. Something I have been wondering about for a while is: Why am I really good at learning something and completely suck at others? I was this way all through school, both high school and college. Get my attention and I am all in. If I am not interested, I am going to be a complete failure.

For over 8 years now I have been trying to master Portuguese. I have studied by myself. I have taken classes. I have visited Brazil many times. Still my growth rate is very slow. There is no question that I really want to learn Portuguese.

During the same period of time. I have learned a handful of programming languages. Studied the financials of over a hundred companies, and studied business concepts from the world’s leaders.

Why is it so hard for me to learn something that I want to learn but so so easy for me to learn something I really really want to learn? Why is my focus so hard to tame on things I am interested in but yet so easy to tame when I really really want to learn something?

I concluded this thought today while snowboarding with my wife. She likes snowboarding. She is not willing to really push it. She wants to get better and better. However, she is not willing to go through the pain and stress it might take to really become a pro snowboarder. She is ok learning the sport slowly, very slowly. I realize we all have a learning scale.

The Concept of a Learning Scale

So I would like to enter into record the concept of a learning scale. Maybe many people before me have come up with that. If you think I am a moron for just thinking about it now move on to your next blog post.

For those of you that have stuck around. I think a learning scale is a number between 1 - 10. A measurement of how much you really want to learn something. A learning scale is a measurement of passion. I guess my learning portuguese scale is about a 3. I want to learn it but I do not really want to learn it. My passion is just less than other topics. I am unwilling to go through the pain and suffering to be a master.

My learning scale for programming and business seems to be consistently at a 10. I am willing to put in the hours and stress to fully understand.


Ok, why did I bore you with my personal soul searching? I think this relates directly to business and the act of hiring. As a growing company we are always looking for talent. I realize today, I want to look for talent that has a learning scale of 10 when it comes to the subject of their employment.

I want to hire people that love the idea of learning new things (in relationship to their field). Most of the creative and engineering types we hire are people that need to be able to learn (and learn fast). They need to keep up on bleeding edge technologies and concepts. If they do not have a learning scale of 10 for their field they will be a waste of resources for us. We need to hire people that are currently passionate about staying current and always learning.

From now on I am only hiring people with a learning scale of 10 for their field. If you are a small growing company I would recommend you do the same.