Learning is all about the process. It’s not an outcome, but a set of actions. In order to grow you must keep learning. Here at Herrmann, we view learning as a mental process that leads to lasting change in knowledge, behaviour or both.
Action takes a lot of forms. It doesn’t necessarily require a six-week commitment to a development course or participation in a leadership lecture. It can be as simple as taking advantage of the everyday learning opportunities that present themselves to you.
New opportunities to learn are everywhere. You just have to be looking. Here are a few of our favourite tips for finding ways to learn something new every day:
1. Adopt the mindset of a child
Children experiment. Everything is new to them so they approach all things with a sense of wonder and curiosity. Adults, on the other hand, tend to shy away from the unknown or assume we already know all we need to know.
Every so often, challenge yourself to think like a child. Gravitate towards the unfamiliar. Re-approach the familiar with a fresh perspective. Be curious. Ask questions. Test things out. All of these actions will teach you something new.
2. Look at mistakes as opportunities
If you’re always looking for outcomes, you’ll always beat yourself up for making mistakes. Instead of calling your misstep a failure, investigate the mistake and learn from it. Treat the process of figuring out what went wrong as a win in itself. That way you’ll be more likely to learn from those mistakes and use that powerful knowledge going forward.
3. Leave the office!
If you do the same things every day, you’ll miss the chance for unexpected encounters and discoveries, and you’ll lose out on the critical “mind wandering” time that helps you generate new ideas and make mental connections.
So, go for a walk, eat lunch with someone in a different department, take a different route to your next client meeting – whatever it takes to break up the routine!
4. Use your phone
We have our phones on us 24/7 – why not make use of them for learning? Try downloading somes apps that give you daily reminders, prompts, questions or tips.
Depending on your preferences, you might be motivated by something like a fun learning game or you might need a more linear planning tool. Find what works for you, and use it to hold yourself accountable.
5. Opt for content that challenges you
Listen to a podcast, watch a video, subscribe to a newsletter, or read something that focuses on a topic outside your area of expertise. Go for variety, and look for those that don’t necessarily validate your point of view. Then make it a point to keep your mind open. Plan to identify one tangible thing you can take away from them every time.
6. Learn the basics
Follow Elon Musk’s advice: Learn the basics and the conceptual framework before you try to master the more advanced material.
If you want to learn something that’s complex or requires advanced knowledge, don’t get overwhelmed by diving right into the tough stuff. The details need something to hang onto. Give yourself time to learn the fundamentals before testing your brain power with the nuances of a given subject.
7. Find new areas of interest based on your current skills
Take a look at the things you’re currently good at and brainstorm where you can take these skills next. Love fixing cars? Try restoring an old model. Great at cooking? Buy a cookbook of recipes outside of your comfort zone and get to work. Enjoy writing? Try your hand at a specific poetic form you don’t normally use.
Get inspired thinking about where you can go next.
8. Keep active
Research suggests that there are heaps of brain benefits to engaging in physical activity. Staying active helps keep your brain primed for new learning, whether that’s by playing sports, hitting the treadmill or going dancing. The key is to find activities you enjoy and will stick with.
9. Give your friend a ring
Teaching others actually helps you learn new things. So, pick up the phone and chat with someone who thinks completely different than you. Walk them through some of your ideas, advise them on new ways of doing things. This process has benefits for everyone involved! LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman has his three “go-to” people. Who are yours?
10. Learn how you think to make it easier for you to learn
If you understand how you prefer to think and learn, you can make the learning process a lot more palatable. Learning doesn’t have to be like it was in school. Find out what really engages you, and then use that knowledge to your advantage.
When things around you are continually changing, and you’re not sure what tomorrow will bring, keeping an open and active mind for new learning is essential.
What new thing will you learn today?