“Learning is a treasure that will follow its owner everywhere.” – Chinese Proverb
This pithy Chinese proverb sums up the importance of learning so wonderfully. After all, learning is life and life is learning.
As an entrepreneur, you are on a constant learning curve, especially where your business is concerned. But do you restrict it to the narrow boundaries of only your business? That is not enough; you need to embrace learning…in every sphere. After all, you could have a great product, but do you know the minds of your consumers? Or do you know how to interact with people to create harmonious relationships?
The human mind is by nature curious and we always wish to extend the boundaries of our knowledge. Learning is a lifelong process; we are always learning something new be it at school, college or work, at home, our experiences, the situations we encounter, the people we meet, the books or newspapers we read, the television programs we watch… We can learn something from every life experience, if only we keep our minds open.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 70% of learning experiences in the workplace are informal or accidental, not structured or sponsored by an employer or a school. This kind of learning is all-encompassing, continuous and powerfully collective. It happens wherever people do their work: on a shop floor, around a conference table, on site with customers, or in a laboratory.
Since we all are constantly learning, whether consciously or unconsciously, we assimilate new ideas, thoughts, values or ways of doing things. However, if one sets about consciously to assimilate and learn, the process becomes much more efficient, much stronger and much more beneficial. You benefit not just by learning new life skills and succeeding at work and in your business; you also become a stronger human being and your interpersonal relationships, be it at home or at work, get strengthened.
Well, here are some ways to make learning an integral part of your life.
1) Open yourself: All wise men and sages say that every experience in life teaches us something. Well, when something happens in your life and you’re stuck, try to figure out what the message is in that experience – what could you learn? For instance, if your business is not taking off, what could be wrong? Your product or service? Your marketing? Your pricing? Every failure can teach you something.
2) Think out of the box: This is not something that comes easily to most of us. The conventional education system in India does not encourage original thinking. However, as an entrepreneur and even in real-life situations, thinking creatively can help you not just in advancing your business, but also in solving problems.
3) Simplify and adapt: Happier people find ways to integrate work & learning and learning &life in mutually reinforcing ways. Learn how to integrate. That means simplifying the simplifiable and focusing on what matters most. Choose what and when to focus on.
4) Don’t get complacent: Keep learning new aspects of your business. For instance, since you are the boss, read up more on leadership qualities and how to motivate your team. Do a SWOT analysis on yourself and find out your shortcomings and see how you can improve them. For instance, do you feel you lack presentation skills? Well, you have many options – you could go for a training program, you could research how to enhance your skills through books or the Internet, you could practice making presentations till you feel good about yourself.
5) Keep learning: In the learner-centric revolution, you stand at the center of tools, experiences, resources, and relationships. Raising a family, enhancing your relationship with your spouse and children, making new friends, getting along with parents as they age, getting along with your colleagues… all this is an education. Make each encounter matter.
6) Uncover it around you. Wander down hallways and listen. Get involved in conversations, with your team or with colleagues. At home, listen when your children or your spouse are telling you something new. Encourage your kids to keep learning. Visit museums or natural parks, read about new topics, learn something new. It stimulates you intellectually and gives you more confidence. When you keep your eyes and ears open, you will always imbibe something new and the more knowledge you have, the more empowered you are.
7) Small steps matter. Since you can learn from almost anything and all the time, score success in small measures. Learn something new; it could be at work or your personal life – a new skill that makes you feel better. For example, if you want to lose weight, learn yoga or dancing, at work, keep abreast of what is happening in your field and apply new techniques. You could find a new hobby – hobbies can give you tremendous satisfaction and you are learning something new. Find victories in small moments all along your path.
Life has so many beautiful lessons to teach each one of us. We just have to be open to the messages. And we must embrace life to the fullest by staying constantly curious, being intellectually stimulated and wanting to learn more and more. Let the learning cup brim over, it will still never be enough! Remember, of all the super-learning techniques, the real key is being in the right state to learn!