in Career Development

Lifelong Learning – 20 Lessons

I wrote earlier about leadership and creating a learning organization. Further thinking revealed that a learning organization is not possible without learning individuals. Here are my top 20 lessons to cultivate lifelong learning:

  1. As professionals, ability (and drive) to learn constantly is a competitive advantage.
  2. Learning is not a one time event, but a lifelong process. It has to be continuous and self-directed.
  3. If you keep doing things the way you have always done, you will only know what you have always known.
  4. The more risks you take, the more you learn. All significant learning happens when we are ready to push ourselves out of our comfort zone.
  5. When you take risks, be ready to fail and learn from those failures. Don’t waste your failures.
  6. Learning requires a humble self-reflection and assessment of your successes, failures, motives, assumptions and actions.
  7. “If you don’t read, you have no advantage over those who cannot read”. Jim Rohn said, “Every great leader I’ve ever met has been a great reader.” Reading feeds our curiosity.
  8. Learning is not external (certifications, trainings) – external endeavors only help when you are internally committed to learn. Learning is not an “outside-in” process. It starts from our desire to learn. So, its “inside-out”.
  9. We don’t learn if we don’t listen. Pre-requisites for learning: an open mind and inclination to listen.
  10. Seeking (and accepting) feedback on our work is a great way to learn. So is paying attention to criticism.
  11. Learning requires commitment and discipline – to read that book, to read a few blogs, to stop watching TV, to dedicate some time in the day to active learning.
  12. Technology makes learning easy (and inexpensive). Lot of generous folks share so much via their blogs, podcasts and videos. Sparing some time exploring these ideas in your area of work makes a big difference.
  13. Reminder: Books are still our best friends.
  14. Post-Reminder: You don’t learn swimming by reading a book. After you read, contemplate and stir your own thinking. Apply lessons in your context and put them in practice. That is the best known method to learn.
  15. Friends accelerate our learning and hence, having friends who think (and make you think), who learn (and enable you to learn), who are inspired (and inspire you) is important. Friends can catalyze your learning process.
  16. The more we share, the more we learn. Coaching others, engaging in teaching others or simply sharing our lessons reinforce them into our system. We internalize those lessons in the process of sharing.
  17. A lot of learning is also about unlearning. Learning is fluid and hence we cannot hold on to our lessons forever. They change according to changes in our context.
  18. Our work plays important role in our learning – if you spend 40 hours a week doing same things over and over again, you have got a reason to be concerned.
  19. A few critical questions – What have you learned lately? What are you looking forward to learn? How is your learning helping you contribute more?
  20. Last but not the least – constantly learning new things refreshes our mind and contributes a great deal in our happiness.

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12 Comments

  1. Enjoyed reading it.

    You’ve done a very good job of putting things into a perspective, Tanmay.

    An interesting thing about learning is: It provides a map to navigate and navigation is easy when you have a map. When you want to travel without a map, unlearning is the key but for doing that, learning is prerequisite.

    Keep learning!

    • Thanks for the affirmation Utpal. I knew this post will resonate well with you. I have heard you talking about the unlearning part – sometimes, our learning creates invisible boundaries around our thinking and hence having an open and ready mind to accept and process new ideas is critical to our growth. Unlearning is hard for sure!

      Regards,

      Tanmay

  2. “Learning is not a one time event, but a lifelong process. It has to be continuous and self-directed.” – I don’t know why some people think after graduation, you start working and stop learning. Being employable does not mean you know it all, it means you have the ability to be taught/ trained. Employers also have a skewed expectation when it comes to experience as they think they should not have to train the prospective employer, he/she must come knowing how to do the job as done in the company. Tasks are tasks, but we all do things differently, following a process and logic we prefer as that is what we have learned.

    • Thanks Thabo – it is very natural for people to cruise along after they graduate and get job. Learning requires discipline, it requires hard work and investment of time. It is a gradual transformation that starts from our desire to grow. Some people just don’t want to grow, and that is a choice :)

      For organizations, it is very crucial to build a culture where learning and sharing is valued. I think a lot of new economy companies already realize this and invest in training/learning initiatives.

      Thanks for the comment and your support to this blog.

      Regards,

      Tanmay

  3. Once again, you’ve very nicely compile your experience…

  4. I loved it…Thank you so very much for sharing this with us….

  5. 100% agree with you,
    Specially like “Learning is not a one time event, but a lifelong process”, “The more risks you take, the more you learn” & “Apply lessons in your context”.

    Thanks to share your view on learning.

  6. Nice. Articulating the obvious is centering, clarifying and calming. I think no new lessons here, but reminders of old lessons in a moment is also learning (relearning?). It is mindfulness we lose when distracted by the noise of the day. I would like to share this with my students (adult learners) and assistants. How can I atribute credit in a way that you would like?

    Best wishes.

    jim

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