Personal Effectiveness: Learning How to Learn
In an age when technology, innovation, and information updates rapidly, the need to learn new knowledge, skills, and motivation has become essential for personal and business success. In this age, the most important personal effectiveness skill is not a specialist skill or an IT skill or even a people skill. It is the skill of learning itself. Learning how to learn gives you the right mindset for the 21st century. It opens the door to all the information and skills you need. And it enables you to drop outdated learning quickly and acquire new learning with accomplished ease.
Learning How to Learn: Bateson's Dolphins
One of the best stories about learning how to learn comes from anthropologist Gregory Bateson In his book, "Steps to the Ecology of Mind". In these collected stories, Bateson describes how he saw dolphins working it out for themselves in a dolphinarium.
On the first day of a new routine, the dolphins were taught a new trick. If they performed it correctly, they were rewarded with a fish.
The next day, when they performed the trick, no fish were given. Fish were only given when a new trick was mastered.
This continued for two weeks. Then on the fourteenth day, the dolphins performed four new tricks they hadn't been shown before but had learnt by themselves. The dolphins had learnt that learning, not tricks, is what gets rewarded.
It's precisely this skill that we all need to learn for our own personal effectiveness at work.
Learning How to Learn: 5 Essential Steps
Here are our top 5 tips on becoming an expert in learning how to learn.
1. discover your personal learning style. Whether it's visual, linguistic, interpersonal, kinaesthetic, or a mix of these and others, knowing your preferred learning style puts you on the fast track to personal effectiveness. It means that, when you need to know something new or do something different, you won't waste time on the wrong kind of training but will select only that kind of training that suits you.
2. go back to your childhood. Your childhood was when your instinct for learning was at its most effective. That's because you had no resistance factors such as protecting your self-esteem or off-loading old learning. When you re-discover how you learnt as a child, you take off the blinkers and just head for home.
3. learn anywhere, any time, any how. There isn't just one way to learn anything or one time. You can learn from others, from books, from mistakes, from doing, from failure, from thinking. Be an anarchic learner.
4. don't let your ego get in the way of your learning. In adults, the biggest block to learning is the ego. It doesn't like learning because it likes to protect you from anything new and risky. Put the ego in its place and take those risks.
5. enjoy the process as much as the end result. The learning process can be seen either as a hard slog of repeated failures or as a mysterious adventure into the unknown. Adjust your mindset and learn to enjoy the process.