The Importance of Being a Continuous Learner

I personally enjoy learning new things do you?  Every year I set out to really learn or master one new skill or goal for the last 10 years most of what I done has been in IT field.  I started with getting my Microsoft Certifications and then moved on to Cisco an eventual completed my degree in Engineering Management after about 10 years of trying.  The last 5 years I set out to learn more specialized skill within my current field of work, HTML, Scripting, Security, Unix, SQL, Java, Websphere, Business Process Modeling to name a few.  This last year I decided that I was going to try something different I set up to learn Internet Marketing.  I will get in to more detail in another post about my approach to this.

Why is it important that we continue to learn?

Because as humans, we are learning machines.  We are most alive and functioning closest to our potential when we are learning, adapting, adjusting, and finding new ways, approaches and techniques to improve our lives (or the lives of others) in some way.

I believe in the above statements.  They are as true as any other statement I could write here.  But rather than talking about the philosophy of humankind, let me get much more pragmatic.

Change and Learning

Change is all around us.  Some say the rate of change is increasing, but whether that is true or not, this is definitely a fact in our business lives.  Products change, Customers change, process and policies change.  We are put on a new team, we are entering new markets, and we have set new goals.  In all parts of our daily professional lives change surrounds us.

In order for us to cope with that change, we need to be willing and able to change.  And learning is a key component in developing that ability.

So when I talk about continuous learning or life long learning, I’m not suggesting everyone needs to take a course at their local college, or go back to school for a new degree.  Continuous learning is an attitude and a set of behaviors that allow us to succeed in our ever-changing environment, and is the best lever we have to turn who we are today into who we want to be tomorrow.  Change requires learning and conversely, there is no learning without change.

So if life long learning doesn’t necessarily mean the “professional college student” and doesn’t require us to be the person who was always asking questions in every class we ever attended, what are the behaviors that make up a true continuous or life long learner?

I’m glad you asked.

The Behaviors

There are some common threads among those who actively are learning and growing as professionals (and humans).  Life-long, continuous learners:

  • Have a beginner’s mindset. If you approach anything with the mindset of an expert, you will learn nothing.  With the expert’s mind, you are looking for confirmation and validation of what you already know.  A beginner on the other hand, looks constantly for one new tidbit, one or more ways to expand on their current expertise.  In other words, expert or not, they don’t think that way, because they know that only with a open, beginners mind, can they benefit from the learning opportunity.
  • Make connections. Continuous learners do that.  They continue to think about what they have learned in one part of their life and how it relates to and connects with challenges, problems, opportunities and situations that occur in other parts of their life.
  • Are flexible and adaptable.  Learning requires change, so continuous learners realize that they must be willing to adapt and change if they want to grow.
  • Are always learning something.  Continuous learners learn new things “just because.”  They’ve always wanted to play guitar, so they take lessons.  They want to ride a unicycle, so they try it.  They learn how to quilt.  They learn a new language. These people don’t invest the time required just so they can play “Love Me Tender” or say “good morning” in Chinese.  They also do it because they realize that our brains are like muscles.  The more we exercise them the stronger they will be.
  • Are continuously curious. One of the most powerful learning questions we use is “Why?”  Why is the question of the curious.  Continuous learners remain curious about people, places, important and mundane things as well.  By cultivating their curiosity they are adding to their knowledge and perspective, while exercising an important part of our learning brain at the same time.
  • Learn in multiple ways. In school we learned in a relatively limited number of ways, which unfortunately leaves some people with a limited view of learning.  Continuous learns know that they can learn by reading, by listening, by trying, through others, with a mentor, etc. (etc.!)
  • Teach others. Something magical happens when you teach someone something – you suddenly understand it better yourself.  Continuous learners teach others not just to help the other person (or to show them how much they know) but because they know it helps them deepen their mastery of their own learning.

How to Use This List

Now that you have read this far I hope you are convinced of how valuable it can be to be a more active learner.  You have also read a list of characteristics.  Now that you have read that list of characteristics, I’d like you to read it again.  As you read it ask yourself these questions:

·    How well do I stack up against these behaviors?

·    Which ones would I like to get better at?

·    Who do I know that is exceptionally good at each of these characteristics?

·    How can I learn these traits and habits from those I know who are better at them than I?

Your answers to these four questions (and the action that you take) will put you on the road to being a more continuous and life-long learner.

Enjoy your journey.

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18 Responses to “The Importance of Being a Continuous Learner”

  1. The Habits of a Continuous Learner | The Money Cult…

    The Importance of Being a Continuous Learner -Why is it important that we continue to learn? Because as humans, we are learning machines. We are most alive and functioning closest to our potential when we are learning, adapting, adjusting, and findin…

  2. [...] The Habits of a Continuous Learner | The Money Cult [...]

  3. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by bbrian017, Jared Little. Jared Little said: The Importance of Being a Continuous Learner http://ff.im/-cn2ia [...]

  4. Hi Jared,

    Really enjoyed reading this. Yes, we learn all the time – and the internet is one of the places where we learn a lot every day. New people, new ideas, new developments. It’s fascinating, fun and thought-provoking.

    Cheers

    Will
    Will McCulloch´s last blog ..Sites Of The Month – November 2009 My ComLuv Profile

  5. Karl Foxley says:

    You have to be a continuous learner to adapt to change. I’m also of the firm belief that learning is an investment in ourselves.

    I agree with Will, I really enjoyed reading this.

    Regards,

    Karl
    Karl Foxley´s last blog ..5 Tips To Help Increase Your Productivity (And Your Profits!) My ComLuv Profile

  6. Brad Harmon says:

    Jared,

    I love this idea, “Every year I set out to really learn or master one new skill.” This will be included in my New Year’s resolutions.

    Thanks for the suggestion.
    Brad Harmon´s last blog ..How Much Money Am I Making with Blog Engage? My ComLuv Profile

  7. Very true porse, people tend to forget that they once were learner drivers and maybe a bit more nervous on the street than what they are now, but people are always in such a rush nowdays and some not all have no consideration for other drivers.

  8. Actually if we love to learn, we can do it with fun. It is said that man has to learn things till he died. Doing continues learning will make a man well educated person.
    My recent post Ways For Kids To Make Money

  9. Sure. First of all, you need to proof read what you write. In the question you copy out the word "Continuous" so you should not have spelled it wrong. Also, learn the difference between accept and except.

  10. Jared,
    Well said. The only way to continually prosper in business (either on or offline) is to continue learning and adapting. Most of the new things we learn we do so because we are reacting to a change, but if we can break that habit and learn and implement new methods and techniques independantly of change, then we shall soon become leaders in our fields.
    Dave….
    My recent post Contact

  11. Jared,
    Well said. The only way to continually prosper in business (either on or offline) is to continue learning and adapting. Most of the new things we learn we do so because we are reacting to a change, but if we can break that habit and learn and implement new methods and techniques independantly of change, then we shall soon become leaders in our fields.
    Dave….
    My recent post Contact

  12. Karlyn Kloss says:

    In Offline Marketing Pro they give you a fool-proof system you can implement right now to get companies begging you for your services. Businesses will be stunned into silence by your proposal, but the real genius is that you’re merely revealing gold already hidden in their business… they just needed you to dig it up! And the best part is… they’ll pay you over and over again. You put the system to work one time… and reap the rewards for years to come. But that’s not all. I’ll also be giving you further systems down the line. Once you invest in Offline Marketing Pro you join a premium membership where training is ongoing and your income never stops growing.

  13. [...] The Importance of Being a Continuous Learner [...]

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  15. Jardin Smith says:

    i agreed with you that continous learning is what human must undergo til the day we leave the earth.
    what you learn today might be useless in the next 5-10 years and thus no one gonna learn today and be complacent.

    i like your notion on "TEACH OTHERS", as i personally feel that this is the best way, works for me, cos there are bigger responsibilties to teach the right thing, so i will double and even triple confirmed the things i have learnt is correct.

    I am loving your blog post every moments!
    My recent post Review On Investing in UK land – Jardin Smith International

  16. I am just writing to let you know what a awesome encounter our girl went through viewing your web page. She realized a lot of pieces, most notably how it is like to have a wonderful coaching spirit to let most people effortlessly fully grasp specified multifaceted subject areas. You really exceeded our own expected results. Thank you for giving such essential, dependable, educational and also cool tips about that topic to Lizeth.

  17. Ayesha says:

    If we stop learning that means we are giving failures a success to maybe comeback and bite us, but if we continue to learn in all situation than we will never fail. I am learning whenever I get extra time and even when I am not mood of trading in real account, I use OctaFX broker’s outstanding Champion demo contest, it’s free to join this yet we can win monstrous prize up to 500 USD for the first position and there are other prizes too in total 1000 USD.

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