Leaders are encouraged to learn “on the job.” The problem is that many of us don’t. Either because we’re too busy, we forget, we don’t know what we need to learn, or we don’t have the resources we think we need, we end up learning by chance or command. Neither one is very powerful.
Learning by chance means you take opportunities to learn whenever they show up, but you don’t necessarily go looking for more. A conference brochure arrives; it seems interesting; you go. A friend recommends a book; it looks good; you read it. You take opportunities to learn as they come to you – in other words, when it’s convenient.
Learning by command means you learn when someone else demands it. When your colleagues tell you that you need to learn to be more decisive, or when your profession requires that you get an advanced certification, or when your boss sends you to a workshop to learn specific skills, you are learning by command.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with these approaches to learning. Any learning that advances your expertise and builds your capacity may be worth your time.
Or it may not, and that’s the problem. You have so much potential, and there are so many opportunities to learn, and there is so much to be gained by learning that it simply doesn’t make sense to relegate your learning to the whims of chance and command. You need to learn by choice.
Learning by choice means carefully setting up your own learning opportunities based solely on what you need to get better results.
Learning by choice is based on a number of assumptions.
Learning is leadership. Learning is an essential component of leadership. Some experts go so far as to say learning is leadership, a leader’s constant quest for the improvement of the business, people, and results.
Learning is profit and competitive edge. The soul of business is innovation; the soul of personal leadership is the innovation of the self. You can’t have one without the other. If you want to have, run, or be part of a business that succeeds in a time of change, you need to be willing to change, as well.
Learning is life. In addition to learning for all of the practical and rational reasons that contribute to your effectiveness as a leader, there’s one more: learning is part of the fun of life. When was the last time you picked up a new sport, game or hobby? We learn these things not because we have to, but because we want to. Your vision and goals will be infused with a new sense of exuberance when you commit to learning what you need to learn in order to achieve them. You will know that you can do anything you want to as long as you know how to learn.
If you really want to lead well and live well, you must learn to learn well, too.
And if you’d like to master the ability to learn as a way of excelling as a leader and in your life, go to www.TheInnerEdge.com. You’ll find a free guide called Your Personal University to help you choose the most powerful way to learn.
Please join us for The Inner Edge Book Club! This month we will be making strategic decisions about how to learn and what to learn in order to excel as a leader and in your life. For more information, click here or email info@TheInnerEdge.com.