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Loving Learning. Or… Learning, Like It or Not

The new school year is well underway. Midterms to take, papers to write, projects to complete.

School is the realm of learning, standards, and grades. The place where improving is the name of the game.

For those of us not in a structured learning environment like a school, we need a way to keep learning: improve, deepen, and broaden ourselves, our capabilities, and our relationships.

There’s a myth out there in our culture of the strong competent leader. This myth would have us believe that to be effective and/or in charge we need to be (or pretend to be) beyond learning and training.

We know everything we need to know already. We can do everything we need to do already. We teach, evaluate and correct others. We don’t have anything else to learn.

The great irony here is that everyone knows that those higher on the organizational chart have much to learn whatever those people think themselves. At the same time we persist in maintaining that we know more than everyone underneath us on the organizational chartĀ 

Needless to say both scenarios cannot be true.

You know before I even say it that I am a believer in and advocate of lifelong learning.

And so I offer the simple challenge to give yourself the gift of three learning goals. One thing to improve. One thing to deepen. And one thing to broaden.

Improve

What in your professional repertoire could use some improvement?

By improvement I mean doing something you are currently doing even better. Up the quality. Increase the efficiency. Enhance your skills, knowledge or experience.

By doing so you become an increasingly practiced expert in your field. You are staying current with the state of the art. You become the go-to person in an ever-changing, ever developing workplace.

Deepen

What aspect of your role and responsibilities could be deepened?

By deepen I mean take something you are currently doing and add new dimensions to it. In addition to supervising staff, reduce turnover. Instead of merely solving the problem, solve it in such a way that it doesn’t arise again. When you submit your reports also contribute insights and recommendations.

By doing so you enhance your value to the organization. You become the obvious candidate for promotion, because you are already doing and demonstrating competence in the job requirements.

Broaden

What about your position or career could be broadened?

By broaden I mean leveraging your transferable skills in a new place altogether. If you are an administrator, organize a charity event, both for its own sake and to build yourself a wider network. If you are a programmer, help your kid’s school or your spouse’s professional association redesign their web site.

By doing so you expose yourself to new contexts, new people, new working cultures, and new organizational missions. In other words, you learn.

In each of these three goals you are learning. Staying interested, challenged, growing and developing.

Not only will you be learning, you will be loving what you do.

On your side,

- Karl Edwards



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