Let’s say you decide to go back to college.

This time, you are going to do it on your own terms. Not because you have to, but because you want to. You are older and wiser now, and you have the ability to look back, taking advantage of the fact that hindsight is 20-20.

However, we’re not going back in time; you are making this decision as one for today. You have arrived at the golden state of being an adult learner and you fully understand the value of lifelong learning. You now know why you need to take certain courses, challenging your professors to coach and mentor you, not just lecture you. Further, you know that if you plan ahead enough, you can interview your prospective professors, choosing the best who teach the courses you’ve elected to take.

Let’s also say, that you do have to play by the rules. You have to take a core curriculum first, getting basic credits out of the way before you get to the ‘good stuff.’ Still, you are not willing to just do the time, going through the motions, sitting there waiting for the bell to ring so you can be on to the next thing. You’re going to engage, milking every moment for what it’s worth, playing offense and making it count. You now understand it isn’t just what you’re learning, but how you learn it. Comprehension versus memorization, questioning versus naïve acceptance, retention and personal application … you now understand the bennies of the ‘how’ that comes with the ‘what.’

How would you make the most of it?

What is the best possible environment for learning that you would create for yourself, one where you get all fired up and excited about learning? How will you fit this charged-up experience into the total form you are creating for your life, so there is no overwhelm, no stress, just a great fit? What are the differences that hindsight has helped you reconcile?

Yes, you definitely are older and wiser now. You consider these things carefully. Deliberately. Purposefully.
Have some thoughts in mind? Good.

Next step: Think about how you can create your imaginary college plan for the best possible learning environment where you work, and in the job you have right now. For the role you have.

  • The ‘teacher’ is your boss, or another workplace mentor— who? And that’s just one of them; reconsider your entire professional network. No college student settles for just one professor, why should you?
  • The tuition payments are captured on that line item of your business plan called ‘staff education, training, and tuition reimbursements.’ Are you using it up each budget year, or have you let it waste away untouched?
  • The course curriculum you choose from? Well, the world is your oyster, and the classrooms could very well be virtual ones. Come to think of it, you could probably make some killer app choices which don’t cost you a dime now that you’re wired up for internet access as your now-world basics … it’s just another utility payment, right?

Now the cool part, the fun part. Remember, this is about want to, not have to:
What are your choices?

  • What will you choose to learn?
  • Why did you make those choices? What is your ultimate goal? Did you write down your learning objectives so you can check them off, and stay the course?
  • What’s the value add? Remember, this is today, and you’ve become someone who understands that ‘payment’ is about much more than money. You want some ROI for effort and for your precious attention; what is it?
  • When will you be ‘in class,’ and have you blocked those sacred times on your calendar as non-negotiable?
  • Your ‘grading’ has probably become some kind of metric, a measurement. Of what? When are your grading periods; your ‘semesters?’ When will you feel you can tip it into some workplace synergy, so you know it truly counts?
  • We learn for the second time when we teach it, and we become mentor and coach. Who will be your student, and when can you start the goodness for both of you? Perhaps it can be a combination debrief-dialogue/re-teaching… Have you calendared those times too?

The environments most conducive for learning have very little to do with brick and mortar classrooms, don’t they.

In today’s world, where the phenomenal spider web of optic cable and wireless wizardry connects us to teachers around the globe, location needn’t be a factor at all.

The best learning environments are created by and constructed with our brains, our attitudes about learning, our unwillingness to waste a single moment of thought, and choices which are made. Once made, lifelong learners cement their choices into the best form for their lives by decisive, deliberate actions. They then re-teach because they can’t not teach; learning excitement has captured their spirit and enlivened it with renewed energy.

Want that for yourself. Do not let another day go by paying lip service to being a lifelong learner. This is your life; grow it with learning that matters because it matters to you.

Related Articles:

  • Line Up for Learning! We have a learning forum coming up on Talking Story soon; let us help you with your choices on the what and the how!

Rosa Say is the author of Managing with Aloha, Bringing Hawaii’s Universal Values to the Art of Business and the Talking Story blog. She is the founder and head coach of Say Leadership Coaching, a company dedicated to bringing nobility to the working arts of management and leadership. For more of her ideas, click to her Thursday columns in the archives; you’ll find her index in the left column of www.ManagingWithAloha.com

Rosa’s Previous Thursday Column was: It’s not the Perks

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