In his 1973 book Reflections on the Human Condition, social philosopher, Eric Hoffer wrote, “In a time of drastic change it is the learners who inherit the future. The learned usually find themselves equipped to live in a world that no longer exists.”
How true that’s proven to be over the past few decades. If we’re not growing, we’re like a dying tree; eventually the winds of change will snap us off our rotting trunks and blow us over.
The famed ancient Greek mathematician Euclid was hired to teach geometry to a young, impatient Egyptian heir to the throne. The prince was an unmotivated student. He especially resisted learning basic formulas and theories before getting into practical applications.
“Is there no simpler way you can get to the point?” he asked. “As the crown prince I should not be expected to deal with such trivial and useless details.” Euclid’s response was destined to be paraphrased by teachers throughout the ages: “I am sorry, but there is no royal road to learning.”
In her March 2016 Harvard Business Review article, “Learning to Learn,” Erika Andersen reports on four attributes critical to effective learning;
- Aspiration – focusing on what we’ll gain from the learning and envisioning a happy future of reaping those rewards
- Self-awareness – getting feedback on how others see us to counterbalance our biased or flawed self-perceptions
- Curiosity – self-talk to ask “curious questions” helping us approach learning we find boring to make it more interesting
- Vulnerability – accept being in a beginner state and learn from mistakes while using positive self-talk to build confidence
Tomorrow we publish my February blogs in the March issue of The Leader Letter. This issue outlines learning attitudes defining great leaders. We’ll also look at how leadership — and learning — flows downhill. Cultures fostering open communication create learning organizations. You’ll also find a few new opportunities for leadership and coaching learning opportunities.
When learning is a way of life rather than a phase of life we become victors rather than victims of change.