Lifelong learning is not a continuation of high school, it’s the creation of your own university.
Our learning builds assets, for ourselves personally, for the organizations we work for, and for our future earning potentials. When soaking in the world’s lessons and learning opportunities, we become better at value creation and realization.
The thought of continuous learning may conjure images of tedious routines and forcing in information. We then may be tempted to perceive it as a tiresome chore. What if we could reframe this perspective and discover that continuous learning can be an organic, enjoyable, and intrinsic part of our leadership journey?
Key to this process is shifting our focus from the notion of ‘forced learning’ to ‘self-motivated learning.’ It is a transformation that centers around our core interests, which greatly helps fuel the development of a more versatile skill set.
There are many ways to learn beyond formal learning, let’s begin:
Learning Styles to Fit Your Needs
Allow your learning to be a multifaceted process that adjusts to your needs. There are three major styles of learning:
Formal (such as an established course, a training program, a workshop, etc.)
Social (can be formal or informal, such as discussion and collaboration, coaching & mentoring, on-the-job training programs, blog reading & email exchange, etc.)
Self-directed (such as researching & reading, podcasts or instructional videos, journaling for further clarity and insight, experimentation & exploration of learning possibilities, etc.)
Break your learning into smaller, digestible chunks. Microlearning involves short, focused learning activities that can easily fit into your daily routine. It can be as simple as watching a standalone 10-minute video (or a video as part of a series), reading an article, or solving a quick problem related to your learning goals.
Seek out mentors or advisors who can guide your learning journey. A mentor can help you set goals, provide feedback, and offer valuable advice based on their experience. This one-on-one interaction can be a powerful catalyst for your growth.
Set Clear Learning Goals
Define your learning objectives. What specific knowledge or skills do you want to acquire or improve? Having clear goals helps you stay focused and motivated for a long road.
Allocate Time for Learning:
Schedule dedicated time for learning in your daily or weekly routine. Treat it with the same level of importance as other valued tasks.
Practice Reflective Learning
After learning something new, take a moment to reflect on how it can be applied to your role, organization, or general life. This helps cement your understanding and ensures practical application.
The Small Wins
Acknowledge your achievements, even the small ones. Recognizing your progress and successes will keep you motivated and reinforce the joy of learning.
Examples of Success
Warren Buffett’s Reading Routine
Buffett attributes a large part of his success to his reading habits. He reads between 500 and 1,000 pages per day, absorbing information on a wide array of topics, including business, history, and psychology. His lifelong diverse reading habit has shaped his investment strategies, insights, and decision-making. Committing to a reading regiment is emulating Warren Buffett.
Jeff Bezos’s Customer-Centric Learning
Jeff Bezos insists on starting with the customer and working backward to develop products and services. His customer-centric approach involves constant learning about customer preferences and needs. Successful leaders can be like Bezos by prioritizing customer feedback and learning directly from the end users.
Fitting Subjects & Your Personal Enthusiasm
When you identify which subjects are the most fitting for your present self & future direction, your enthusiasm will naturally pour in. This formula is the secret to your journey taking off strong and remaining sustainable.
Uncovering what you’re naturally drawn to & interested in is the right start. Narrowing down your options and choosing that which makes practical sense for your future direction is the closer.
When we are organically interested in a subject, the learning happens with less friction and more regularly. Choosing your subject matter is the keystone to a successful start.
Long Term Vantage Point
Imagine yourself 2, 5 or 10 years down the road, after having invested a couple hours per month (or more) on a subject of interest to you. You will be connecting to this field of study more easily and naturally. You will be bringing new insights to the table and connecting them to your work, forming helpful ideas for your team, and holding a deeper understanding of the matter.
It doesn’t take a massive scheduling investment to integrate a new field into one’s life.
The Unseen Progress
An intriguing aspect of organic learning is that it often goes unnoticed. It’s the gradual accumulation of knowledge and skills that occur in the background, like slow plant growth in a forest. You may not realize it, but you are constantly evolving and becoming a better leader as you delve deeper into your interests and engage in the world around you.
What About the Bottom Line?
Learning may directly contribute to the bottom line in some cases, while indirectly in others. There are many benefits to keep in mind when developing a culture of learning at your organization: enhanced innovation and problem-solving, improved employee performance, competitive advantages, talent attraction and retention, better customer understanding, scalability and expansion capabilities, risk mitigation, more efficient decision-making, cost reduction, revenue diversification, and many others.
Learning is an investment worth the returns.
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