In a world where change seems to come hurling toward us like a bullet train, we know learning is needed just to survive, let alone thrive.
And while most everyone would nod at the idea that we must be lifelong learners, the list of excuses people have for why they aren’t and can’t be learning continually is long. The most popular comment/excuse as to why people aren’t learning is one you have heard, and likely thought…
“I’m too busy. I don’t have time for learning.”
Actually, while I know you have a lot on your plate, both at work and in the rest of your life, the truth is you have the same amount of time as any other person on the planet.
If you think you are too busy to learn, you aren’t lacking time; you’re making the wrong choices. (Tweet That)
So, the powerful question would be, “What can I do, that doesn’t require a significant amount of incremental time, to help me keep learning?” And the good news is, that is exactly the question I’m answering in the rest of this article!
Be more curious. The best and fastest learners on earth are children. So if we want to be more proficient as learners, wouldn’t it make sense to emulate what they do? Kids are curious. They ask “why?” all the time. There is a correlation between those two facts. Curiosity and learning are joined at the hip. When we are curious about the whys or hows of a situation, we are open to learning about it. When we think we understand, and have already decided, the opportunities to learn are few.
Seek the perspectives of others. When we live with our ideas, our perceptions and our viewpoints, we don’t stretch and learn anything new. Decide now that each day you will ask someone’s opinion, ask them to explain their position, ask them what they see, or invite them to share their solutions. And after you ask, listen with an open mind. Be careful, you will learn something!
Look for a lesson in everything. We ask our kids, “What did you learn today?” Yet we seldom hold ourselves to that same standard. If we look for the lessons in our everyday life situations, we will have more than enough new learning every day. As your day is unfolding, ask yourself: “where is the lesson here for me?” Ask it in a meeting, when you are on the phone, when you are listening to the radio, when you observe others in the line at the store, everywhere. When you tune your mind to look for lessons, you will begin to find them . . . everywhere.
Look for connections. Our brains are massive connection-makers. Have you ever tried to figure out how you got on a train of thought or conversation and tried to back-track to the source? If you have, you have experienced this fact – everything in our brain is hooked to other things. Knowing that, one powerful way to learn is to look for the commonalities and connections between what is happening around you and your past experience and knowledge. When you consciously look for connections, you find new ones. Voila! New learning!
Go for 1%. Give yourself a break. You don’t have to hit a home run in every at bat. You don’t have to come up with a brilliant insight from every conversation. You don’t have to learn everything at once. Make it your goal to get 1% better today. Look for a small lesson to incorporate into the way you listen tomorrow, or participate in that meeting this afternoon, or build your productivity. Focus on small wins, small insights and small improvement. If you learn every day, and improve by 1% at something every day, you will become a juggernaut. (I wrote about this here and created a video about it here.) Yep, sometimes you will get the big Aha, but remember, you are in it for the life, so focus on 1%.
Do you notice that none of these things actually take much (or any) of your time? They are things you do in your mind or in normal conversations. They are simply new ways to live, within the boundaries of your busy life. I could share far more than five ideas to do that, and I could add many more if we expanded to habits that do actually take some of our time, but that is for another day.
If you do the things I suggest here, you will be amazed at how much you will learn and grow – without really adding to your to-do list or taking away from your precious sleep time.
Learning is all around us, if we choose to grab it.
Now you have some new ways to grab it!