I was bitten by the learner’s bug in my college days. I loved reading books related to my course, taking notes sitting on the first bench, making my own observations and studying. After college hours, I made sure I was always learning something. So I enrolled in a Chinese cookery class, a typing class, computer class, stitching lessons and many others. Today, when I sit back and connect the dots, it looks like me getting into the facilitation and coaching realm was a very obvious sequel to my career than by chance. In the years when I was heading a system integrating business for a few years, I remember feeling stagnated as I was not actively learning. I was someone who believed that learning comes only from doing and studying. And once we learn, we automatically mature and expand in intelligence. That was my understanding till my teacher/mentor helped me to see different possibilities of learning.
Do we learn only by enrolling in a class?
Do we learn just by reading or doing?
Do we learn only when taught?
Do we grow only when we are taught, or when we show ourselves something new?
Can we learn and yet not grow?
What do you think?
I think lessons can be learned all the time if we are willing. Learning need not happen only in classrooms, textbooks and through courses and degrees. There are different ways and levels of learning. Learning does not have to be restricted to skill alone.
What would you say if I ask, “Is having knowledge equivalent to learning? If I think about it, at one level, it is a yes. I know it is not safe to cross the road while the red signal is on, but when I use that knowledge while crossing I have learned at the next level. Just revising or reviewing makes our learning deeper.
We can learn by staying curious. If I had stayed curious in my previous career, I would have probably gained more. Kids learn the technique of driving a car just by being curious. I learnt to cook quite early since I was very curious to see how one can get a tasty dish out of a few differently seeming ingredients.
We can also learn by listening. When my husband explains the features of a new car, I learn. When my daughter describes the science behind her experiment at the lab, I learn. When people share their travel experiences, I learn.
We can also learn through awareness. When we speak of change, personal excellence or transformation I believe we are our best teachers. If you are willing to learn you will notice that there is so much wisdom in life around us. All we need to do is look for it.
Learn from Humility:
My daughter and I always seemed to have this discussion about how she and her friends preferred eating at all the trending fast food chains and never at a traditional Indian joint. So I assumed that these youngsters were not finding our cuisine “cool” enough to be seen eating outside. But then my daughter asked me a question which taught me the meaning of being with people without continually evaluating them. She asked me if it was possible that when her friends went out with their families, they always ate Indian food hence they preferred something else on other days? A simple conversation can teach us, but I learn only when I receive it as learning and become more aware of how I am thinking in future.
Learn from Mistakes:
Each time we make a mistake we learn something. However when we get busy being defensive or feel victimized, then the lesson gets lost. Also, life has its most unique way of throwing up a lesson repeatedly that we seem to have not got in the first go. It took me a while to realize that I cannot empower others in a coaching session if I keep shrinking. To think before I blurt out is a lesson I have learned the hard way. Our mistakes, failures, can teach us but I learn from my mistakes when I take the lesson and commit myself to it.
Learn by Observing:
One Sunday evening we were returning home after dinner. As our car drove into the narrow lane, off the main road, the car headlight caught something delightful. Just outside our home, I saw a little pug held onto a leash by his owner, barking and growling at four tall sturdy street dogs. The street dogs who live on that road were crouching behind and barking hesitantly while the little one was standing firm at the centre of the road, looking straight at them. His disposition was declaring loudly,”Don’t you dare mess with me while I cross your road” The owner was trying to pull him back, but the little fellow was refusing to move. He wanted to move forward and go through the entire road. What I learned that day was nobody can make us feel small. What matters is how we see ourselves. Observing the environment and people can help us learn, but I learn only when I choose to.
The morning sun, the sprouting seeds, the discipline of the ants, the perseverance of the bees, the patience of an eagle, teaches us so much. What I sense is that learning is not just a skillset but a mindset. So today when professionals and my coaching clients explain to me that they are feeling rusted and not learning anything new, I ask them, ‘What if you seek’?
Lessons are all out there, for us to pick and grow. When you create a goal you learn, when you take a challenge, you learn, with each win and failure you learn, in every moment you learn.
Would you like to read a poem? Here it goes
I bargained with Life for a penny,
And Life would pay no more. However, I begged at evening
When I counted my scanty store;
For Life is a just employer,
He gives you what you ask,
But once you have set the wages,
Why, you must bear the task.
I worked for a menial’s hire,
Only to learn, dismayed,
That any wage I had asked of Life,
Life would have paid.
by Jessie B. Rittenhouse ( Web Source: http://www.ellenbailey.com/poems/ellen_025.htm)
What did you learn?
Have a happy day!