In our current “modern times”, we often find ourselves outdated in terms of expertise, knowledge and skills as the need for more, better and faster increases and evolves in our ever-changing world.
For anyone to survive there has to be an ability to remain agile and gain new knowledge and skills at an increasing pace to match the speed of business. According to McKinsey studies, “People who maintain their ability to learn significantly, outperform others professionally.” Thus, people who value a learner-for-life mindset and indulge in knowledge for both professional and personal reasons, are the ones destined to succeed and excel. These individuals typically display an unquenchable hunger for improving themselves or gain new skills and capabilities and never stop learning. Michelangelo famously quoted “I’m Still Learning” at age 87 and achieved his excellence through a never-ending curiosity of the world and continuously stretching his own limitations.
It then makes sense why many studies have found that highly successful people often share the philosophy of being “learners for life” or “lifelong learners”. They simply continue to learn and grow their entire lives and achieve great sustained success. But usually, the opposite is found to be true for less prosperous people – who commonly believe that they “already know enough and don’t need to improve.” But transforming to the mindset of being a learner for life is not an easy, quick-fix trick that you apply as a “once-off solution”. It requires consistent courage, discipline, curiosity, dedication, humility and hard work. But considering that there is no other habit that could guarantee your success in life more than the habit and practice of Lifelong Learning, the fruits are well worth it. And the data and neuroscience back this up.
Now, the majority of people don’t have a favourable view of continuous learning, and this could work to your advantage. What others turn down is your opportunity, right? Every day you commit to learning, growing and developing yourself adds value to who you are and what you have to offer to the world. The increase in remuneration, skills, competency and rewards are usually the fruits from this investment in your value.
Stephen Covey famously wrote, “the Private “Internal” Victory always precedes Public “External” Victory”. Our mindset, attitudes, skills and beliefs are the Private Internal victories that we need to address to continually step up into our better-self and achieve extraordinary results both personally and professionally. Addressing these fundamental mindsets will also improve your overall wellness, life-satisfaction and keep your brain fresh, healthy and capable even as you grow old. Therefore, becoming a learner for life is not a nice to have anymore. It has become your ultimate competitive advantage and critical for your success and wellness in an ever-evolving world.
Carol Dweck, the famous author and professor at Stanford University, has made it her mission to discover what separates successful people from the rest. She has concluded that it wasn’t birth talents or genes or intelligence that separated them, but rather the MINDSET of the individuals. Our Mindsets drive our actions and behaviours, and these compounded over time ultimately leads to our growth and success, or lack thereof.
Carol Dweck’s theories in her book “Mindset” suggest that the mindset and approach to which individuals approach challenges and growth, play a crucial part in their success and ability to learn, and many independent studies have proven this. She found that people either have a growth mindset or a fixed mindset and that these mindsets play a significant role in your ability to learn optimally.
Her studies even showed it on brainwaves of participants where people with both mindsets came into their brain wave lab in Columbia and answered various hard questions and received feedback. At the same time, her team monitored their brains neural activity.
She reported that “People with a fixed mindset were only interested when feedback reflected on their ability. Their brain waves showed them paying close attention when discussing whether their answers were right or wrong. But when presented with information that could help them learn, there was no sign of interest. Even when they’d gotten an answer wrong, they were not interested in learning what the right answer was. Only people with a growth mindset paid close attention to information that could stretch their knowledge. For them, learning was a priority.”
This study demonstrates and confirms that the mindset with which you view learning lies at the core of your ability to learn and grow as a human being.
By embracing a learner for life mindset, it can lead us all to a place of gratitude and openness towards growth, learning and any challenge that we might face in our life.
But the lifelong learner process entails more than merely reading tons of books to gather information – it expects of you to also put the information into regular practice and actively participate in learning with enthusiasm, energy and curiosity.
As organisations aspire to attract and groom an agile workforce that has the critical thinking skills to adapt in the face of change, it’s also vital for them to keep up the pace. For the improvement of skills and talent in teams, some of the most successful organisations in the world have demonstrated the power of creating a culture where people are motivated, inspired, and challenged to continue learning and collaborate with curiosity.
But, ultimately, the choice still starts and ends with the individual to leap towards any opportunity to learn. The human brain is an incredible thing and can do whatever you direct it towards. But it requires internal ownership of the transformation in the way we view our own abilities to access our latent potential and best self.
For a culture of a learner for life mindset to be present in your personal life, business or family, there needs to be intrinsic ownership and a sense of responsibility for each individual to continue learning and growing throughout their entire life actively and energetically.
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