I’m not sure that I totally agree with the premise of the book. Talent certainly does play some role in success. At the same time, I’ve learned that competence can be achieved in anything if you’re willing to put in time and effort in a concentrated manner.
Too many of us stop learning after our formal education stops. The end of formal schooling isn’t a signal that it’s time to stop learning. I think the end of formal education is a signal that it’s now time to start real learning. The type of learning that comes from both experience and continued curiosity.
This is where being a life long learner starts. Just because you’ve earned an advanced degree, you haven’t learned much. You have learned the minimum of what it takes for entry into your field.
We’re finding that Nobel Prizes are being awarded to people later and later in life. Some believe that what used to take five or ten years for expertise now takes twenty years to learn. This is because the body of knowledge in every field has expanded.
Being a life long learner means you learn from experiences as well as books and live educational events. Learning is based in curiosity. Curiosity could be how things work or it could be about how to make things better.
Curiosity about our mistakes is a good place for learning. When we do things wrong we have an opportunity to ask those around us and ourselves what we could have done differently to get a different result. There is one thing for sure; if you do the same thing you will get the same result.
Curiosity also is being willing to experiment. Lean manufacturing theory is about doing things fast, making small mistakes, and learning from those small mistakes. Experimentation doesn’t have to be large. In fact, small experiments are likely to lead you to a new understanding faster than planning and implementing a large experiment.
Asking for help is key to being a learner. We all stand on the shoulders of giants. If we’re going to continually learn we need to ask for help. I’ve found that those who are experts in any field are more than happy to help those who show true curiosity.
I’ve learned a great deal from masters in various fields. As long as I’m willing to ask they’re willing to teach.
What are you doing about being a life long learner? Do you think this is something that’s important in your life?
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