On our various journeys through this thing called life we are continuously learning, albeit different lessons and at different speeds.
Over and above our varied life lessons, we continue to improve our knowledge in the different aspects of our life – be it our hobbies, or our stage in life or our field of work.
At school we are all boxed into an environment that works well for some students and not so well for others. Those who do not provide appropriate results in the school system are then labeled as slow learners, or maybe even as ADHD and are put on to medication to ‘correct the condition’.
The reality is that we are all individuals and just as we have different heights, weights, skin colours, eye colours, tastes, likes, dislikes etc., we also all learn differently.
Countless articles exist about learning types – are you an auditory learner, a visual learner, a sensory learner – or maybe a bit of each?
In business, savvy marketers know that in order to successfully convey their marketing message to a broad audience, they must not only provide quality written content, but also webinars, social platforms, videos, podcasts, slideshows and more. The more mediums that are used the more people you will reach.
Practice, practice, practice
For me, the best way of learning is to do. I might read up on a particular subject, check out some videos, but the real learning comes from actually rolling up my sleeves and getting on with the job at hand. I guess I subscribe to the principle that practice makes perfect.
Fans of Malcolm Gladwell will already know about the 10 000 hours rule. Gladwell contends that 10,000 hours of “deliberate practice” are needed to become world-class in any field.
While Gladwell’s theory has attracted much controversy, he has gone on to explain that “There is a lot of confusion about the 10,000 rule that I talk about in Outliers. It doesn’t apply to sports. And practice isn’t a SUFFICIENT condition for success. I could play chess for 100 years and I’ll never be a grandmaster. The point is simply that natural ability requires a huge investment of time in order to be made manifest. Unfortunately, sometimes complex ideas get oversimplified in translation.”
For purposes of this article, the point is that practice is necessary to continual improvement, but it must be in a way that pushes your skill set as much as possible
Move beyond your comfort zone
To grow we need to move out of our comfort zones and try new things and learn new lessons.
One of my favourite modern acronyms has to be “lmgtfy” which translates to “let me Google that for you”. Never, in the history of time, have we ever had such instant access to such vast amounts of information. The trick is to consume that information from trusted sources and to be able to put the information to good use. Also, because of the amount of information we are now bombarded with daily, the new trend is ‘Focus’. It is critical to pick the subjects that interest you and try to ignore the rest.
On the flip side, the media can also be to blame for many people not pursuing more sporting activities. People watch the pros on television and online and feel that they are not good enough to participate because they are not as good as the pros, but there is little more rewarding than taking up a new sport. Not only are the benefits to your overall wellbeing outstanding, but it challenges you to move out of your comfort zone, learn and grow.
An often overlooked form of learning is travel. While finances may not allow us to travel as much as we would like to, if prioritized correctly, most people have the opportunity. Exploring new lands, cultures, languages, foods and lifestyles is an excellent way for us to learn and grow.
Stretch your mind
Another way to practice continuous learning is to bring out your inner child and try to see your world with different lenses. This can be extremely challenging because most of us are deeply rooted in our belief systems. Seeing things differently is almost impossible for some people, but it is one of the best ways to stretch our minds. A trending example of this is the many programs that have become popular to teach people that they have a bad relationship with money and that they should change the way they perceive money.
In the workplace, no matter how routine or mundane your particular job role may be, there are many ways that you can continue to learn and grow.
Try looking up ways to use tools to automate manual tasks. It will encourage you to review the way you do things and to learn some new technology.
If you already make use of certain tools, try to learn about other tools that offer similar functionality.
If you’re still working with on-premise tools, investigate cloud options and read as much as you can to ensure you understand the benefits, opportunities and possible issues associated with operating in the cloud.
Not only will you feel tremendous satisfaction in having learnt something new but you will find better ways to do your job better and to save valuable time.
Often overlooked, soft skills also require practice. Our interpersonal skills are critically important in both the personal sphere as well as in business.
There is nothing more debilitating than working with a team that is dysfunctional due to a lack of soft skills. Knowing how to read and understand people as well as how to manage our own feelings and the way in which we communicate can be even more important than any of the other skills required in our day to day activities.
Our core value – Lifetime Learning
At Symbiotics, the concept of always growing and learning is one of our 5 core values. These values are not marketing tools, but guidelines that apply to our everyday lives – at the office and in our individual capacity. Because these values are the values that inspired the initiation of the company and carried us forward for the past 21 years, we ensure that every member of our team feels comfortable living by these values. Our values are used throughout our interview process, everyday application of our abilities in the workplace, and even in exit interviews.
We honestly believe that if you have stopped learning, you have stopped living and encourage learning and growth on an ongoing basis.
When last did you give yourself a new challenge?
Recently I decided to lay new floor in a small room at home. I’ve never been good at DIY and really wanted to learn something new. I hopped onto Google and pulled a list of all the tools I would need. I then watched a couple of YouTube instructional videos. Then off I went, list in hand, to buy all my supplies. I devoured as much information as I could on how to correctly prep the floor and how to use the tools correctly – circular saws are not for sissies. I even wore the recommended safety goggles, gloves and knee cushions which really made the job a whole lot easier.
And the most interesting part of my pushing the boundaries experiment was that despite all the information I consumed, I still made some mistakes that I could only have prevented through experience. Ultimately, I was very impressed with the outcome of my project, which would have been far more difficult and far more time consuming without the power of the internet.
Do something rewarding for YOU today.
What’s stopping you? Invest a little in yourself and help yourself to grow. Decide now on a new project, a new hobby or even a new destination to explore. Make it public by commenting below. Good luck and enjoy!