When was the last time you proactively decided to learn something new? Last week? Last month? Last year? Or is it so long ago that you can’t remember?
I’m not talking about something your organisation paid for you to do, or a course they sent you on. I am referring to learning that you decided was important.
It could have been learning purely for enjoyment, because you wanted to master a new craft or because you were feeling that your skill set was getting out-dated.
Reflecting on that learning, ask yourself:
- Did I embrace the learning with eagerness or did I see it as a chore and something to be endured?
- Did I play safe with the learning and target a course or activity that was easy, or did I seek to challenge myself?
As children, we learn through playing. It is a form of experimentation, and whilst we might fail at something we typically dust ourselves off and try again.
As we get older we can become more reluctant to try new things and do things differently. We can become more stuck in our ways, and avoid learning or tasks where we might fail.
We all have an inner voice, which voices our fear of failure, of being judged or being held up to ridicule.
Rather than seeking to silence the inner voice, acknowledge its presence and recognise that the best indicator that you’re learning something new is when you feel uncomfortable.
Our brain loves certainty. It likes to have all the answers and to know what to do. However, when you are doing something for the first time, your brain won’t know precisely the steps to take. And so you start to feel uncomfortable.
So rather than shying away from the discomfort, embrace it!
People learn most rapidly when the learning is relevant to them, and when they take responsibility for their own learning.
Every year I sit down and plan out my learning agenda for the year. It will be a mixture of activities that are cerebral and practical. The learning will be both broad and deep. I also come from the perspective that no form of learning is wasted, so it doesn’t matter what you learn.
If you haven’t already, it’s not too late to put together your learning plan for the rest of the year.
- Buy a book on a topic that you have always wanted to know about, and is different to your day job
- If you sit in an office all day, attend a course that requires you to use your hands to create something (i.e. woodwork, craft or design)
- Go to a lecture on a subject that will broaden your field of view
- Subscribe to online news so that you can get up to date information and knowledge from around the world
- Use curating sites such as Flipboard and Pocket to get a daily dose of interesting information sent to your inbox
- Set up Google Alerts on topics that you are interested in and curious about
- Find a hobby that uses a different skill set to your day job
- Join a Meet Up Group on an area of speciality that interests you.
I love this quote from William Pollard, an English writer and Quaker from the mid-1800s. He’s not very well known, which is a good reminder that learning and ideas come from lots of sources:
“Learning and innovation go hand in hand. The arrogance of success is to think that what you did yesterday will be sufficient for tomorrow.”
Getting you ready for tomorrow, today.
Michelle Gibbings is a change leadership and career expert and founder of Change Meridian. Michelle works with global leaders and teams to help them get fit for the future of work. She is the Author of ‘Step Up: How to Build Your Influence at Work’ and ‘Career Leap: How to Reinvent and Liberate your Career’.