The joys of being an absolute beginner – for life is an edited extract from the book Beginners: The Curious Power of Lifelong LearningI by Tom Vanderbilt. It includes some powerful points about continuous lifelong learning and in particular being an “adult learner”. Here’s just one
“.. why should I bother learning a bunch of things that aren’t relevant to my career? Why dabble in mere hobbies when I’m scrambling to keep up with the demands of a rapidly changing workplace?
First, I might suggest that it’s not at all clear that learning something like singing or drawing actually won’t help you in your job – even if it’s not immediately obvious how.
Learning has been proposed as an effective response to stress in one’s job. By enlarging one’s sense of self, and perhaps equipping us with new capabilities, learning becomes a “stress buffer”.
Regularly stepping out of our comfort zones, at this historical moment, just feels like life practice. The fast pace of technological change turns us all, in a sense, into “perpetual novices”, always on the upward slope of learning, our knowledge constantly requiring upgrades, like our phones. Few of us can channel our undivided attention into a lifelong craft. Even if we keep the same job, the required skills change. The more willing we are to be brave beginners, the better. As Ravi Kumar, president of the IT giant Infosys, described it: “You have to learn to learn, learn to unlearn, and learn to re-learn.”
Are you enjoying the power of lifelong learning?
How are you encouraging your people to do so too?
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In MWL 2021 we consider a number of ways to do this whether it is to establish an informal, daily habit of learning (see 13 – Promote a daily self-learning habit) or a more formal process of self-development (see 14 – Adopt a formal self-development process)