The 7 Best Ways To Learn
Lifelong learning doesn’t mean just taking classes, going to training or attending conferences.
In her research for UNDETERRED: The Six Success Habits of Women in Emerging Economies, “lifelong learning” was a key skill that Rania Anderson observed in 250 successful women across 29 countries. These women were always in a learning posture, regardless of how advanced or experienced they were in their field. It meant that even if they were an expert, they pursued information as if they were a novice.
It’s counterintuitive, so I’ll say it again – even if they were an expert, they learned like a novice.
To continue to succeed you’ll need develop or sharpen your learning posture. If you look, you can learn something everywhere, and from anyone.
The seven best ways to learn are:
- EXPERIENCE! Find opportunities to collaborate with others. Work in areas you have not worked and in the most valued part of the business. Volunteer or work on projects that allow you to exercise and develop competence in areas less familiar to you.
- STRETCH! Take on challenging assignments that have risk associated with them. Start something new, fix something that is not working well, scale a function or area, and do something you have never done.
- ENGAGE! Learn from others: your boss, peers, people more junior than you, people you encounter and mentors. If you don’t have a mentor, you can still learn from others. You can learn from others without having a formal work relationship simply by observing people. Some successful women have found mentor-like advice by by reading someone’s books or following their work online. Even a single pointed conversation at a social or networking event can be a great learning opportunity.
- GET FEEDBACK! Your network can be your greatest informal teachers if you are willing to ask for and integrate feedback from them regularly. Even once you’ve developed in an area (in fact this is just as important when you are highly experienced as when you are a novice) ask for feedback from peers, collaborators, bosses, customers and anyone affected by your work. Make sure you ask for frank, direct feedback and keep asking until they give you something tangible. Don’t take a “you are doing great” comment at face value – acknowledge and thank the feedback giver and also dig deeper to get more specific input.
- READ! Ask or look for experts’ opinions online about the best books and resources in your new area of focus. Read about things that have nothing to do with your areas of expertise. Don’t limit yourself to textbooks or how-to manuals. Read about the experiences of successful people or those who have failed, study the history of the field, and find articles with case studies and real world examples
- RESEARCH A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT INDUSTRY! It’s good to get out of your bubble and see what trends, language, structure, and ideas are being used in other industries. You never know what you might learn, or what might inspire you. You may learn something that will help you contribute in a whole new and innovative way.
- ATTEND TRAININGS AND CONFERENCES! Especially if you don’t have immediate connection to professionals working with the new skills you want to develop.Choose and attend conferences or training where you can both learn new content and network with a new field of people.
So remember, even if you are an expert, learn like a novice!
What are you learning? How do you learn? Who are you teaching? Tell us! We’d love to hear from you.