No matter what you have achieved in life, the day you stop learning more, you might as well be dead
If you have accomplished a lot in your life – in your career or otherwise – you may feel the pressure of becoming someone who is expected to have all the answers – about everything. Many of us fall into this trap and start believing that we actually possess more knowledge and are wiser than anyone else. In reality, this is the time when we need to learn the most because the moment we feel we have mastered something we will stop learning.
The best learning happens when you put yourself in an unfamiliar situation; so reading about a topic which you don’t know much about, being in the company of people you don’t know and who are more knowledgable, doing things for the first time and so on.
Examine your day and see how many things do you do differently each day. Do you ever take a different way home from work? Most people stay with lifelong things forever and will only limit themselves to knowing about them. Even in careers – most people stay with one industry or sector or have one specialisation. Again, nothing wrong with this but will you learn more by doing different things? For sure.
Research done over the years in sports, music, science, art and business has shown that people who have had diverse interests and experience outshine people who stay in the same profession all their lives. Even leadership roles in forward thinking organisations go increasingly to people who have experimented and gathered a number of skills.
Learning brings humility to your character. When you don’t have all the answers you look for people who provide those answers and will be part of a team which delivers optimum results. When you allow yourself to be challenged, you keep learning more and its a never ending process.
You should also discover the ways you learn best and have a process around it. It is much easier to learn nowadays as there are so many ways to educate ourselves about anything. While oldies like me are still in love with reading printed books, the internet has provided access to content in the shape of online newspapers, magazines, podcasts, webinars and so much more. It is actually a challenge to figure out exactly what one should read and learn about.
My simple solution to this is to go with your feelings. I enjoy economics, biographies, history and lately fascinated by technology – so I tend to read anything that comes my way in those areas. While I mostly read books, I often find the access to online books and magazines irresistible. Also, the option to increase the font size is a great incentive as one ages 🙂
In terms of doing, I think that experimenting with work is fundamental to living a fulfilling life. Going deeper in your current work is good but going wider in terms of experience is much better. If you play golf and only that, you will be dealing mostly with the clear rules, clear goals and these never change. I keep telling my golfer friends that it is an epitome of limited skills and learning ! Likewise for chess as you master recurring moves which is what makes it easy to automate.
Unlike Golf and Chess, Life has no clear rules and looks much more like a roller coaster. This means one must be more adaptive and become lifelong students.