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Learner and Input: The Curiosity Cousins

input learner Feb 24, 2020

Many people have trouble differentiating between the Learner and Input talents. One way to observe the difference between the two may be to watch how two different people might read a book. The person with Learner will sit and read every page, the footnotes and the appendix, then make note of the author’s recommended books on the same subject. The person with Input might skim the book jacket, the introduction, the chapter titles and maybe the first paragraph of each chapter and then put the book down and pick up another on a completely different subject.

Most Learners want to funnel new knowledge into some sort of application. Maybe it’s another degree or certification, a new skill, a presentation or report, a hobby or home project. Input collects information or things of interest to them and stores it in an accessible place (often just in their minds) for later reference or use. 

Both talents have a curiosity or thirst for information. Learner wants new knowledge. Input wants more: more facts, data, trivia, music, movies, pictures or people to add to its warehouse. Both have a research or investigative dynamic. Learners might be more drawn to a library or YouTube to acquire more working knowledge while Input is more about the quick gratification of “mind candy” Google provides.

As for the Kryptonite of each talent, when Learners aren’t learning they get bored, and a bored Learner quickly becomes disengaged. One business owner I coached caught on to this and was able to keep his Learners more productive by infrequently putting them in different roles to learn how the whole business worked together. When Learners get stuck or bored they may double down on learning. Many professionals in a career crisis who have Learner immediately deflect to going back to school for further education. Though the paper chase of another degree energizes their Learner talent for a year or two it does not always result in a dream job upon completion. But the journey - not the destination, was worth the ride.

A Kryptonite example for Input is spider webbing on the internet. They start by looking up some information for a specific purpose and soon have double clicked their way around the world wide web gathering an assortment of information or artifacts, whether currently relevant or not. This can look like a lack of focus or waste of time to some. But for Input, the possibility that their collection may be useful in the future makes it worth keeping. Thus, Input can look like a form of “info hoarding” to those without this talent in their top 5. 

So it should be no mystery if these two talents show up together in your Top 5, your drive for information may have a sixth gear. It may be hard to move from absorbing more insights and wisdom to action.

One thing is for certain about both talents – if you need someone to research new information, lean towards a team member with the Input or Learner talent. They will be energized by the challenge. Just be sure to communicate clearly what is needed and any deadlines you need them to meet.


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