Why You Should Never Stop Learning
What is it about growing older that makes us naturally think we’ve already learned everything we need to know? If you think about it, it’s an incredibly backwards mindset. We’re literally forced to learn, study, and read until we’re somewhere between 18 and 26 years old, where we finally “graduate”, which in reality means more of an “I’m done studying” connotation than anything else. And then? What, we just hang up the books and start imparting our wisdom in the workplace for the next 40 years? Not so much. It’s crazy if you really think about it, but that is the message we send. And, clearly, we place value on learning if we encourage young people into it, and give them little to no respect until they’ve “achieved” all their education.
A general lack of continued learning causes catastrophes for a number of reasons. This results in stagnant companies, complacent employees, a huge lack of creativity, poor empathy, poor management development, awful communication standards, on and on. I’m sure we can all think of individuals in our workplace or personal life that never seem to catch up on the times. They are constantly lagging behind the trends in their business as if they literally expect to survive without adaption. This is a result of poor learning skills, in my opinion (amongst other things of course).
Okay, so the negative impact of an unlearned workplace is significant, but what about in your own personal development? What new skills are you learning or picking up on? Are you up to speed on the latest trends in your business? Do you know what the hot topics are for your customers or clients? Have you read a book in the last year that’s left a big impression on you? Have you picked up any new hobbies or personal interests that will serve you well in the future?
Sometimes, our common excuse for slowed growth is that we’re too busy. Translation — “I’m in survival mode.” This is dangerous. Survival mode means we’re trying to avoid being eaten up by our daily lives. I heard an awesome quote recently, “Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up, it knows it must outrun the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning in Africa, a lion wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the slowest gazelle, or it will starve. It doesn’t matter whether you’re the lion or a gazelle-when the sun comes up, you’d better be running.” Are you the lion or the gazelle? If you lost your job tomorrow, are you confident that you’ve harnessed the skills and built the network you need to find a new position quickly, or are you sunk, as you’ve poured yourself into just surviving your daily tasks, and left no room for professional development?
There are endless positives of continued learning. Learning makes you well-educated. Being well-educated means you’re well-rounded. You’re likely more trustworthy, and a knowledgeable source amongst your peers and in personal relationships. Reading and studying grants you perspective of others — other companies, other cultures, other industries, other communities, things outside your own sphere of influence. It opens your eyes and gives you a sound mindset.
Being a learner will help you hone your craft. It gives you an edge over your competition. It makes you more competent, more adaptable, and more respectable. Learning can also provide you with that sense of accomplishment that is intoxicating. Learning a new skill or task, is an achievement, and will spill over into other life areas as well. Studying and developing in the right areas will serve you well.
Grade school is for children, yes. Educating yourself is not. Don’t be the “grown-up” caught out in the cold. Learn something new this week!
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