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Published on August 6, 2018

How to Connect Different Learning Styles with Career for Great Success

How to Connect Different Learning Styles with Career for Great Success

How we define our career success is different from one person to the next, or at least should be different.

Many define career success through wealth symbols likened to those glossy images of The Robb Report containing pages of plush houses, luxury cars and superyachts. Others such as Bill Gates and Warren Buffett seek other measures of career success, now giving significant amounts of their wealth away to charity.

The Chronicle of Philanthropy documented in 2017 that since the year 2000, Gates and Buffett donated $18 billion and $65.5 billion respectively. Their career success milestones now contain a stronger philanthropic foundation.

Whether or not you define your career success by the size of your bank account, the car you drive, your role title, level of accountability or the emotional and personal satisfaction you feel at the day’s end, one thing in common: you have to learn how to become that person that can obtain that.

Here’s where getting a strong handle on your learning styles really matters if you want to gain faster momentum on your career success pathway. You have to be highly familiar with what works for you and adapt where you can.

In our haste to achieve our personal definition of career success, we look for shortcuts to accelerate our progress pathway. If only we could learn faster…. if only. Well, we can!

The major connection between different learning styles and career success is actually a formula of awareness, variety, timing and being savvy in choosing the right combination of styles to meet your growth challenges.

Knowing our learning styles gives us great advantages but not in the way we might currently think.

The myth about questionnaire scores and labels

In climbing the corporate ladder, you might have undertaken three or four personality profile assessments such DISC, the Myers Briggs Type Indicator or others. You complete a self-report questionnaire such as the VARK to help your new manager determine the best ways to help teach you.

The report you receive describes your preference of learning as a unique combination of visual, aural (auditory and verbal), read/written and kinesthetic preferences.

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The most commonly cited learning styles tend to be the following:

  • Visual – use of diagrams, pictures, symbols and videos or demonstrations;
  • Auditory – talking and listening;
  • Kinesthetic – practical, tactile, doing activities hands-on.

The questionnaire (any questionnaire for that matter) is designed to categorize our responses. Learning style assessments usually reveal we have a prevalence of at least two styles.

If we look at other research and assessment tools, we discover different perspectives on how our learning styles should be recognized. (See Yale Center for Teaching and Learning for additional learning style descriptions.)

What we need to recognize is that these categorizing labels are not absolute across all circumstances and all subjects. In fact, researchers encourage we remember that there is great variability even within the labels.

You might prefer singing karaoke style as you listen to songs you love rather than watch video music clips. However, when it comes to learning ballroom dance moves, you find it easier to watch someone model the foot positions first in the classic waltz before you attempt them yourself rather than listen to someone describe how you undertake the step-sequence.

Wrong and right ways to use learning style questionnaire results

Reading through the questionnaire report you feel validated and understood. You feel such relief when you read the summary and discover the reason you found math so hard was because the teacher did not teach you in the style you best learn. “They didn’t know how to teach me in a different way that best suited me!”

Here is mistake number one:

Your score doesn’t indicate how you best learn. It indicates how you prefer to learn.

You then apply a blanket conclusion that your report’s summary is all you need to know to best learn in all situations and fast track your career progression.

Here is mistake number two:

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Making generalizations can actually be limiting.

Whilst research reports that individuals develop a stronger understanding of their learning preferences,[1] there is no clear evidence yet that simply choosing learning formats that match your preference will improve our learning capability or speed of learning.[2]

This is not bad news!

Undertaking such questionnaires isn’t worthless but rather a way to recognize you have certain ways of learning which are more comfortable for you to learn. You can figure out how to make learning simple, easier and more enjoyable. That’s a big plus!

Research shows that students encouraged to think about how they learn actually achieve better learning outcomes. They are encouraged to reflect on how they drew conclusions and made connections and as such integrate the information better.

Take Richard Branson for example, with a dyslexia diagnosis, there were clear learning limitations for him. Whilst he probably would not have scored highly on the aural subscale of the VARK , he does credit dyslexia for being one of his greatest assets.

Branson has said he learned to delegate and communicate better and that due to these ‘limitations’, he realized he needed to work in ways that made business simple and easy for him. Branson might score more highly on a writing subscale!

    He has described his signature management technique to be his constant note-taking because remembering what people said was always too challenging. He takes a notebook everywhere.

    How to choose your personal best combination of learning styles

    Educators and researchers have found we actually learn better when we apply a variety of learning styles.

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    Listen to a podcast, write notes, view a video and complete a workbook on a topic you need or want to learn. You are likely to have a stronger grasp and retention of the information than if you were to engage only one or two of those options.

    There are more types of processing taking place which allow you to store and be able to apply the information better. The increased quality of engagement with your topic facilitates better learning.

    As you think of the steps in climbing the corporate ladder, each rung has inevitable increasing demands. Better skills in guiding and coaching your team, wider knowledge, thinking faster and effectively on your feet, analyzing comprehensive data and reports swiftly are but a few of the growth steps you must master.

    Think back to situations where you have felt similar levels and types of challenge and ask yourself:

    “How did I learn then? What styles do I feel worked best for me? What should I have done differently?”

    The pattern of learning styles which you applied then are patterns you can use as a framework now. But don’t stop there. Modify, strengthen and build on them.

    A mix of preferred learning styles & less preferred styles will accelerate growth

    Let’s consider the example of your needing to present a pitch to a potential client for new business. It’s a skill you’ve only seen contract paperwork for as a client administrator but the next step on the path to your career success is a business development role.

    You MUST prove your capability in this opportunity to show you’re worthy and deserving of promotion.

    What learning styles help you grow to demonstrate you’re the best person your company should put forward to win the client? You have the following options:

    1. Practice speaking the actual pitch to a group of friends. You would rather eat dog food for dinner than stand up in front of a group of people and speak but you know that role-playing is the closest simulation of doing the pitch;
    2. Practice your pitch to your dog. He will love you unconditionally anyway despite how you perform and will be even happier if you choose not to eat his dinner;
    3. Practice pitching to your work associates who are successful business development managers. Be sure to have your Wonder Woman or Captain America shield ready to protect you from painful but helpful feedback;
    4. Buy books and read literature about ways to make an effective pitch;
    5. Watch YouTube videos about how to make an effective pitch.

    Let’s pretend you’re identified as being a strong visual and verbal learner. The opportunities to only use these styles are either unavailable or limited. You feel sick about knowing to role-play and know the kinesthetic route is the most viable road to take.

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    But that may not be the only way. Functional MRIs have now shown that our brains don’t actually know the difference between what is real and what is vividly imagined. Research has also shown that physical performance can improve when we simulate the practice of ideal performance using visualization and imagery.

    You don’t only imagine seeing the movie scene of you delivering the perfect pitch. You also imagine feeling extremely confident, calm, have a sense of knowing that you deserve this opportunity and see in your mind the clients are delighted by your presentation. Imagery and visualization have that power to affect your performance.

    What if you practiced visualization incessantly, did at least one pitch in front of your work colleagues and asked for feedback and verbally rehearsed key statements in your delivery? With slightly less fear-factor, this mix of uncomfortable learning style strategies and preferred styles would surely be a winning combination.

    The right combination is key. Choosing the right combination of learning styles which feel comfortable plus engaging the uncomfortable styles are sure to drive you closer to your desired aim, faster.

    Match learning styles with your career path

    Growth can be painful and change is not something, we as humans, rush toward in fits of excitement.

    Our brains are designed to keep us safe. When we feel safe, we feel nice and comfortable. Our anxiety levels are low or non-existent, we feel in control, fully satisfied and content.

    The problem is though, we are unlikely to develop, stretch and progress.

    Knowing our learning style preferences can help us alleviate some of that discomfort in stretching and growing. However, what we want to create is a reverse plan.

    Choose your endpoint, map the steps backward that you need to grow into and move through. Chart against each step the learning styles and methods you feel will be the best balance of comfort and the amount of growth pain you feel you can handle.

    Sometimes no amount of standing on the sidelines and watching people glide around the ice-skating rink is going to help you learn how to skate. You are going to have to step onto the ice at some point to find your own center of gravity and balance. The weekend seminar junkie, listening to speaker after speaker telling them how to turn their four-figure revenue into six figures in six months.

    It’s great to listen, watch and read, but nothing changes until the behavior actually changes and action is taken. The major connection between learning styles and career success will always be a combination key to knowing what you prefer, knowing what works, choosing the right mix and applying them at the right time.

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

    Reference

    More by this author

    Malachi Thompson

    Executive Leadership and Performance Consultant

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    Last Updated on June 13, 2019

    15 Best Entrepreneurs Books to Start Reading Now to Be Successful

    15 Best Entrepreneurs Books to Start Reading Now to Be Successful

    Knowledge is power, and you’re going to need a lot of it if you’re going to be able to steer your business to success.

    Without further ado, let’s take a look at the 15 best entrepreneurs books to get inspirations about success and grow your business.

    1. Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill

      This book has been dubbed the Granddaddy of All Motivational Literature, and it was actually the first book that gave a prescription of what it takes to be a winner.

      Napoleon Hill draws from the stories of millionaires like Henry Ford, Andrew Carnegie, and Thomas Edison to illustrate the principles he put forth.

      Get the book here!

      2. The Lean Startup by Eric Reis

        A lot of startups end up failing, but many of these failures are actually avoidable. The Lean Startup provides a different approach that is now being adopted all over the world and changing the way that companies are developed and products are being launched.

        In The Lean Startup, Eric Reis describes what is required for a company to penetrate the fog of uncertainty in order to discover a path to a sustainable and successful business.

        Get the book here!

        3. The E-Myth Revisited by Michael E. Gerber

          In a revised edition of the 150,000-copy bestseller, The E-Myth, Michael Gerber refutes some of the myths that surround starting your own business and shows just how commonplace assumptions can end up getting in the way of being able to run a successful business.

          Gerber succeeds in walking the reader through the steps that occur in the life of a business, from infancy, through the pains of growing as an adolescent, to the perspective of the mature entrepreneur.

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          Get the book here!

          4. Rework by Jason Fried

            Most of the business books that you get today will give you the same advice: draft a business plan, study the competition, look for investors, and all that.

            However, Rework shows you a more effective, easier and faster means of succeeding when running a business. By reading it, you’ll be able to know why some plans are harmful, why you don’t really need to get investors, and why you’re better of shutting out your competition.

            Get the book here!

            5. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

              This is one of the most successful motivational books in history, selling well over 15 million copies since it was released in 1936. The book is timeless, and it appeals to businesses, self-help startups, and general readers.

              Carnegie believes that a lot of successes come from an ability to communicate rather than having brilliant insights. In his book, he teaches how to value others and make them feel appreciated and loved.

              Get the book here!

              6. Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell

                Through this amazing book, Malcolm Gladwell is able to take the reader on an intellectual journey through the world of ‘outliers’. He asks the question of what truly differentiates high-achievers.

                His answer to this question is that we tend to pay too much attention to what successful people are like, and less attention to where they are actually from.

                Get the book here!

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                7. Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki

                  This is the best personal finance book ever written. It tells the story of Kiyosaki and his two fathers; his real father, and that of his best friend (his rich dad), as well as how the two men helped him shape his opinions on money and investing.

                  It refutes the myth that you need to earn high to become rich, and it distinguishes between working for money and having money work for you.

                  Get the book here!

                  8. The Ascent of Money: The Financial History of the World by Niall Ferguson

                    Niall Ferguson, in this book, follows the money to tell the story behind the evolution of the word’s financial system, from the beginning way back in ancient Mesopotamia to the latest occurrences in what he had dubbed Planet Finance.

                    Fergusson also reveals financial history as the backstory behind our very own history, with an argument that the evolution of debt and credit is as significant as the history of technological innovation and the rise of civilization.

                    Get the book here!

                    9. Liar’s Poker by Michael Lewis

                      Michael Lewis landed a job at Salomon Brothers after getting out of the London School of Economics and Princeton within three years, he had risen to the rank of bond salesman, making millions for the firm and cashing out steadily.

                      Liar’s Poker is the amalgamation of these years — a look behind the scenes at one of the most turbulent times in American business. His book is Lewis’s account of an era where greed and gluttony were the order of the day.

                      Get the book here!

                      10. Drive: The Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us by Michael H. Pink

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                        A lot of people see money as the best motivator. Michael pink says it’s a mistake.

                        In this provocative book, he asserts that the secret to high performance anywhere is the need to direct our lives, to learn and create, and to do better by our world and ourselves.

                        Get the book here!

                        11. Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen

                          Outdated methods don’t work in today’s world. In this book, Allen shares some awesome methods for stress-free performance that he has shared with thousands of people all over the world.

                          His premise? That productivity is proportional to your ability to relax.

                          Get the book here!

                          12. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey

                            In this book, Stephen Covey presents a holistic approach for overcoming both professional and personal issues. With insights and anecdotes, Covey presents a way to live with integrity fairness, service and dignity.

                            Get the book here!

                            13. The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape the 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich by Tim Ferriss

                              In this book, Ferriss dishes on the tips he has learned from studying the New Rich, a subculture of people who did away with the deferred life plan and mastered time and mobility to developed luxury lifestyles for themselves.

                              If you’re looking to make your way in this revolutionary new world, this here is your compass.

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                              Get the book here!

                              14. Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose by Tony Hsieh

                                The CEO of Zappos shows how a unique kind of corporate identity can help deliver a huge difference in the way results are being achieved — by creating a company that values and delivers happiness.

                                Get the book here!

                                15. Losing My Virginity: How I Survived, Had Fun, and Made a Fortune Doing Business My Way by Richard Branson

                                  From Virgin Atlantic Airways, Virgin Records and V2 to Virgin Cola, Virgin Megastores and a wide array of other companies, Richard Branson is the rockstar billionaire that a lot of us want to be.

                                  Branson, however, did business by following a simple philosophy:

                                  “Oh, screw it, let’s do it”

                                  Losing My Virginity is an unusual, borderline outrageous autobiography of one of the greatest business geniuses in the world. Branson and his friends named their business “Virgin” because that was what they were — virgins at the game.

                                  Since then, he’s written his success rules, creating a global business that has no headquarters, no management structure no corporate identity as it were.

                                  Get the book here!

                                  More Inspirations for Entrepreneurs

                                  Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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