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What Will You Learn Today?

What Will You Learn Today?

What Will You Learn Today?

    A Typical Life?

    I gotta be honest, I really like my life. Of course I have my moments (being human and all), but for the most part, it rocks. Not a day goes by where I am not thankful for, or totally aware of, what I have and what I’ve been given. Of course it’s not always a normal, conventional or typical life by any means (but who has that?) – and sure, I’ve disappointed my long-suffering mother by not providing her with the expected grandchildren to this point in time – but it’s a fun life nonetheless. Sorry about that, Mary. I’ll do better.

    Naah, I probably won’t.

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    What do You Like Most About Your Life?

    Anyhoozle… someone asked me recently what I like most about my life. “Good question”, I replied. I pondered for a moment and while I get to do lots of cool things, I concluded that the funnest (a word) thing about my life right now is the people I get to meet and learn from. To say I meet a broad cross-section of people would be a massive understatement. From elite athletes to fat business people. From celebrities to people battling life-threatening diseases. From the arrogant to the humble. From the powerless to the powerful. From the well-known to the unknown. From the financially rich to the spiritually rich. From prisoners to prophets. From the angry to the enlightened. And from the obsessed to the apathetic. Yep, they have all taught me something. Knowingly or not. Intentionally or not.

    Interestingly, some of the most negative, self-obsessed, self-destructive and problem-focused people have taught me the most. Specifically, how not to be and what not to do.

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    Where we Choose to Learn

    I have always been a keen observer of people and a passionate student of human behaviour; even as a young boy. Long before I understood what the term behavioural psychology meant, I was studying people, absorbing and processing information and learning lessons. Life lessons. People lessons. Communication lessons. Leadership lessons. Management lessons. Lessons about manipulation, influence, power, humility, fear, health, success, attitude, happiness…  and a whole lot more. While I enjoyed school and university (to a point), I have always understood that (for me) there were many more valuable truths to be uncovered beyond the (traditional) classroom. I have always found people to be fascinating, inspiring, curious, amazing, confusing, selfish, selfless, fearful, courageous and profoundly interesting creatures.

    I have learned that being a student is a choice. As is humility. As is honesty. As is personal growth.

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    My Philosophy on Learning

    I have a somewhat “cheesy” mantra that I wheel out periodically and while I hate the over-used, self-help cliches that typify so much of what’s painful and annoying about the field of personal development, the following statement is an accurate and honest representation of my attitude towards learning:

    “The world is my classroom, each day is a new lesson and every person I meet is my teacher.”

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    As trite as it might sound, the above ideology can be both enlightening and transformational when we truly understand and embrace the power and potential that comes from living in this kind of paradigm.

    The Non-Learner

    In truth, some people have not learned (listened, changed, grown, improved, adapted, paid attention, asked a question) in twenty years; just take a look at the kind of results they produce, how little of their ability they use, how much of their time they waste and how their existence is typically one of repetition, frustration and mediocrity. And complaining. Groundhog Day for the perpetually miserable and unfulfilled. For a range of reasons, they have chosen not to learn new things. It seems that some people are too proud, fearful, arrogant, busy, distracted, insecure or lazy to learn. What a pity, what a waste (of everything) and what an unnecessary reality to inhabit.

    Opening Our Eyes

    If we so choose, our world (the one we create and inhabit) can be different from now… or like too many others, we can keep living our life in a holding pattern. We can be problem-focused or lesson-focused; it’s a choice. It’s a mindset. Some choose to whine and bitch, others to learn. From right now we can open our eyes, shift our attitude, learn new things and produce better results, simply by looking at old things in new ways. Internal shift produces external shift. That is, transformation always works from the inside-out. If there’s a genuine desire to learn, the lessons will always be there. In fact, they are always there but we fail to pay attention. If only we would listen to what life (God, the universe, subconscious us) is saying. The wisdom is there. The truth is there. The joy is there. And the lessons are there for anyone who chooses to be a seeker and a student.

    So what have you learned lately? Do tell! Feel free to teach the rest of us something by sharing any recent revelations, insights, life-lessons or moments of clarity. And as always, feel free to share your thoughts on this article.

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    Craig Harper

    Leading presenter, writer and educator in the areas of high-performance, self-management, personal transformation and more

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    Last Updated on November 5, 2019

    How to Cultivate Continuous Learning to Stay Competitive

    How to Cultivate Continuous Learning to Stay Competitive

    Assuming the public school system didn’t crush your soul, learning is a great activity. It expands your viewpoint. It gives you new knowledge you can use to improve your life. It is important for your personal growth. Even if you discount the worldly benefits, the act of learning can be a source of enjoyment.

    “I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.” — Mark Twain

    But in a busy world, it can often be hard to fit in time to learn anything that isn’t essential. The only things learned are those that need to be. Everything beyond that is considered frivolous. Even those who do appreciate the practice of lifelong learning, can find it difficult to make the effort.

    Here are some tips for installing the habit of continuous learning:

    1. Always Have a Book

    It doesn’t matter if it takes you a year or a week to read a book. Always strive to have a book that you are reading through, and take it with you so you can read it when you have time.

    Just by shaving off a few minutes in-between activities in my day I can read about a book per week. That’s at least fifty each year.

    2. Keep a “To-Learn” List

    We all have to-do lists. These are the tasks we need to accomplish. Try to also have a “to-learn” list. On it you can write ideas for new areas of study.

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    Maybe you would like to take up a new language, learn a skill or read the collective works of Shakespeare. Whatever motivates you, write it down.

    3. Get More Intellectual Friends

    Start spending more time with people who think. Not just people who are smart, but people who actually invest much of their time in learning new skills. Their habits will rub off on you.

    Even better, they will probably share some of their knowledge with you.

    4. Guided Thinking

    Albert Einstein once said,

    “Any man who reads too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking.”

    Simply studying the wisdom of others isn’t enough, you have to think through ideas yourself. Spend time journaling, meditating or contemplating over ideas you have learned.

    5. Put it Into Practice

    Skill based learning is useless if it isn’t applied. Reading a book on C++ isn’t the same thing as writing a program. Studying painting isn’t the same as picking up a brush.

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    If your knowledge can be applied, put it into practice.

    In this information age, we’re all exposed to a lot of information, it’s important to re-learn how to learn so as to put the knowledge into practice.

    6. Teach Others

    You learn what you teach. If you have an outlet of communicating ideas to others, you are more likely to solidify that learning.

    Start a blog, mentor someone or even discuss ideas with a friend.

    7. Clean Your Input

    Some forms of learning are easy to digest, but often lack substance.

    I make a point of regularly cleaning out my feed reader for blogs I subscribe to. Great blogs can be a powerful source of new ideas. But every few months, I realize I’m collecting posts from blogs that I am simply skimming.

    Every few months, purify your input to save time and focus on what counts.

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    8. Learn in Groups

    Lifelong learning doesn’t mean condemning yourself to a stack of dusty textbooks. Join organizations that teach skills.

    Workshops and group learning events can make educating yourself a fun, social experience.

    9. Unlearn Assumptions

    You can’t add water to a full cup. I always try to maintain a distance away from any idea. Too many convictions simply mean too few paths for new ideas.

    Actively seek out information that contradicts your worldview.

    Our minds can’t be trusted, but this is what we can do about it to be wiser.

    10. Find Jobs that Encourage Learning

    Pick a career that encourages continual learning. If you are in a job that doesn’t have much intellectual freedom, consider switching to one that does.

    Don’t spend forty hours of your week in a job that doesn’t challenge you.

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    11. Start a Project

    Set out to do something you don’t know how. Forced learning in this way can be fun and challenging.

    If you don’t know anything about computers, try building one. If you consider yourself a horrible artist, try a painting.

    12. Follow Your Intuition

    Lifelong learning is like wandering through the wilderness. You can’t be sure what to expect and there isn’t always an end goal in mind.

    Letting your intuition guide you can make self-education more enjoyable. Most of our lives have been broken down to completely logical decisions, that making choices on a whim has been stamped out.

    13. The Morning Fifteen

    Productive people always wake up early. Use the first fifteen minutes of your morning as a period for education.

    If you find yourself too groggy, you might want to wait a short time. Just don’t put it off later in the day where urgent activities will push it out of the way.

    14. Reap the Rewards

    Learn information you can use. Understanding the basics of programming allows me to handle projects that other people would require outside help. Meeting a situation that makes use of your educational efforts can be a source of pride.

    15. Make Learning a Priority

    Few external forces are going to persuade you to learn. The desire has to come from within. Once you decide you want to make lifelong learning a habit, it is up to you to make it a priority in your life.

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    Featured photo credit: Paul Schafer via unsplash.com

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