I started 2019 by delivering a TEDx talk at TEDxGCET in Vallabh Vidyanagar. This post covers a few key insights extracted from the talk. Video to be posted soon.
Formal education is a launch pad that equips us with fundamentals. But we need wings to fly long and high in the direction of our dreams. Ability to learn in a self-initiated mode is one of the most critical skills to thrive in a rapidly changing world.
“In times of profound change, the learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.” – Eric Hoffer
Real learning is an inside-out process. It starts from a deep internal desire to know something, do something and change something. That’s when you take charge of your own learning.
If I look at my own journey and connect the dots, I find three things that that forms my 3L framework for self-directed learning.
The first L is “Labor of Love”
My son is fascinated by drawing and he loves creating greeting cards. When he is immersed in the process of making the card, he completely loses the sense of time and place. Fully concentrated in creating the lines and coloring.
For him, it is not work but it is play. He does it NOT because someone is asking him to do it. He does it because HE finds pleasure in it.
That to me is labor of love. Playing where our passion is. The key questions to ask then are:
What is it that you would do even if no one paid you to do it or asked you to do it?
What are your intrinsic skills – things that come naturally to you?
What puts you in the flow state?
What change do you truly want to see around you?
From an early age, I wrote because I wanted to express myself. This need to express translated into other related mediums like blogging, speaking, leading teams, running organizations, writing books and creating sketch notes.
In each case, I started at a very basic level but when I continued doing it persistently, I eventually got better at it.
When we play at the intersection of passion and effort, we elevate our game and improvise without even noticing it.
The second L is for “Lifelong Learning”
Our school system trains us to be passive learners and we always rely on someone else for our learning.
The essence of self-directed learning is to keep the inner fire alive, have an open and curious mind, , creating new knowledge through action and experimentation, make new connections to your existing knowledge, improve upon your skills and collaborate with others. It is about exposing yourself to diverse experiences and disciplines to generate independent thought and recognize patterns.
My journey into social media and blogging taught me one of the most important things about self-driven learning:
We don’t learn anything in isolation and our best learning happens when we learn with others.
Internet has made it easier to find your heroes, watch them do the work and learn from their journeys. We need to invest in finding likeminded people to share our work with, draw inspiration from, learn and collaborate.
Network and community is a great learning enabler.
One more element of lifelong learning is having a multidisciplinary approach to work. When you pursue different disciplines, you can easily use expertise from one domain into a totally different area.
Differentiation in career and innovation always happens where two disciplines intersect.
My sketchnote project is the intersection of my ideas from my blog and my drawing practice from 20 years ago when I was preparing for architecture entrance exam.
In his Stanford commencement speech, Steve Jobs said that when he was studying at Reed College, he got into learning calligraphy. And many years later, his understanding of calligraphy inspired beautiful typography in Apple products.
He nailed it when he said that dots eventually connect. Whatever we choose to do, it eventually connects.
Lifelong learning and multiple interests empower us to seize unique possibilities when faced with adversity.
Finally, the third L is “Leverage”
Leverage, in simplest terms means finding a way to make a positive impact for yourself and others through your learning. It is about putting your learning to good use. We don’t truly learn till we execute our learning to solve real world problems.
My leadership improved when I looked at my role as a way to serve those I was responsible for.
Real learning is in the act, in putting your learning to significant service of others. Your work becomes art when it changes the self and others for better.
Today, knowledge has become a commodity and everything you want to know is out there on internet. We have moved from an industrial world to knowledge world to a creative world now. In this world, what you know is not as important as what you do with it and how you apply your knowledge to solve real world problems.
We are living in the golden age of self-directed learning. Getting information, sharing your work and connecting with others is just a click away. We have a world of possibilities now open to us.
The problem is that we are used to navigate with the help of predefined maps. Self-Directed Learning is an exploration of what lies within us, what lies outside of us and finding that sweet intersection where the magic really happens.
That’s when you truly learn things that are unique to you. That’s when you can differentiate yourself.
That’s when you stand a chance to change the world within and outside for better.
Here is the visual summary of the talk in a #sketchnote form.
And, here is the picture of me delivering the talk