Dear Dan: How Do You Keep Learning
Just curious – what are some things you do to keep learning? … How do you keep yourself continually looking for inspiration?
Thanks for your question, Katie.
Learning is rare because it’s uncomfortable. It often requires unlearning.
Learners prefer rigorous transformation to comfortable confirmation.
The number one source of learning is openness to others. When I say ‘others’, I include ‘different’ others. You like your friends because they likely think like you think.
You learn from those who think differently from you.
Listen for new ideas.
- What idea surprises you?
- What ideas make you uncomfortable?
- What thoughts seem to contradict your current opinions?
Rather than quickly rejecting or refuting a surprising idea, explore it. Ask questions.
I learn by putting new ideas into practice. I have a very low tolerance for bloviating. I’m always looking for the main point and practical application.
Staying open is a challenge when you plan to put a new idea into practice.
Learn FOR others. I have a client that’s working on recruiting top talent. This makes me more alert and ready to learn about recruiting talent.
Trying to solve a problem is motivation to learn. A new problem is a reminder to stay open.
Teaching is a way to learn. The teacher learns more than the student.
I use audible when I travel. I also peruse many pre-publication manuscripts and newly published books. It’s one of the perks of writing Leadership Freak.
The book Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman continues to show me that I don’t know as much as I think I know.
Reading comments on this blog is helpful to my learning.
The pursuit of better is motivation to learn. I believe there’s always a better way so I’m not content with the last way something was done.
What might leaders do to continue learning?
We are want to be learning leaders. Many years ago I asked a great superintendent what he had been learning. He said that he updated his resume every spring as if he were going to apply for a different position. The process of updating clarified what he was learning. He was and is a great leader! He is also a great listener and very humble. One of my many mentors.
What a great way to reflect on what one has learned.
First of all I stopped saying I have problems to solve. A problem is something you see on a math test. I’ve learned to say I’m attempting to solve challenges presented to me whether in work, in family for that matter in life. Facing and attempting to solve a challenge is so much more positive and powerful than facing a problem. Life is a set of challenges not problems, some challenges you solve now, some maybe later some not at all. If you learn something from the act of working the challenges whether you succeed or not you’ve moved forward and learned a powerful lesson along the way. I might be way off the topic but the mention of problems triggered me.
Your article is to me a plea for Creative Interchange. I don’t know if you have ever heard about that process, you and I are born with. I keep calling it “the best kept secret of the USA”. Creative Interchange IS the meta process of learning and transforming. It is the answer to the question its discoverer – an American Religious Philosopher – pursued to answer whole his life. His quest started more than a century ago (his dissertation was published in 1917). I’m talking about dr. Henry Nelson Wieman. One of his followers started to continue Henry Nelson’s work some fifty years ago and this gentleman – dr. Charles Leroy ‘Charlie’ Palmgren – became my mentor some twenty five years ago.
While Charlie is living in the States, I’m living in Europe and both are still working to live and appreciatively understand Creative Interchange. All of what you’ve written in your blog about ‘keeping learning’ are elements of Creative Interchange and … there is a lot more. If you’re interested in the “best kept secret of the USofA” please contact Charlie.
PS. One of my ‘slogans’ : A ‘growth’ mindset = CI(square) = Continuous Improvement through Creative Interchange
FWIW my answer to your question: “What might leaders do to continue learning?”: Live the process they are born with from the inside out”.
I see now that my WordPress.com account my name is replaced by a ‘nick name’: creative interchange, partly due because I use WordPress.com for my columns: http://www.creativeinterchange.be ; so I sign with my real name and a second ‘nick name’ I sometimes use.
Johan Roels (AKA Johan SBE – SBE being an acronym for Silly Belgian Engineer)
Creating the habit of reading a book a month can make one an active leaner.
Interesting comment on “reading”, I do not find many adults of any age who actively read whether for professional reasons or pleasure. I agree reading can make one an active learner as i read continuously articles, discussions, and yes books (mostly for pleasure). I find reading a good story resets my mind for focus on life. My family would say I am obsessed with reading. Who else reads and what do you read for pleasure? I love anything by CJ Box in the Joe Pickett series and any Michael Connelly Harry Bosch stories. I am currently reading Churchills History of the English People right now, on Volume one, Briton.
I LOVE CJ Box, and particularly Joe Pickett. That character now is just like a warm hug to me. I have also been reading the Harry Bosch books but only on the 4th book. I do the reading challenge every year on Goodreads.com and try to achieve my challenge. I set 50 books for this year but am sorely failing at only having read 19 so far. If you enjoy reading you should check out GoodReads if you haven’t yet. I like it for keeping track of what I’ve read. These days I’m on a classic sci-fi binge.
Cat: I’ve also just finished binging the Bosch series (4 seasons) on Amazon Prime, each season followed one book and they did it very well. It was good to compare the books I’ve read (all of them) vs the series layout and the writing. I typically read all Bosch and Pickett Novels in one setting the first day they are out in digital format. That is how hooked I am. I also like anything by Daniel Silva, Nathan Goodman, Kyle Mills (Mitch Rapp stories), L.T Ryan, David Baldacci, Lee Child (any Jack Reacher story), & Toby Neal (any of her Police stories placed in Hawaii). Check some of them out especially Toby Neal.
Thank you for your post Dan! I have the Gallup Strength of Learner. Still, for me, I would change one word in your opening. You write, “Learners prefer rigorous transformation to comfortable confirmation. I don’t often “prefer” rigorous transformation. I try to “choose” it even when I don’t prefer it. Thanks for constantly challenging me.
This was a great question and you had some great responses! You don’t know what you don’t know and the more you learn, the more you realize that there is so much more that you don’t know!
Yes. Varying your people context is very helpful. Whether it’s listening to various news sources, or conversing with persons from different cultures, stay curious. And be humble. Proud persons will not learn.
Learning also requires vulnerability–an admission that leaders don’t know everything.
I learn everyday because technology is changing we need to grow with it!
I have good luck with Webinars, Blogs, and books. Even many of the trade magazines have good information! Really depends on your field of expertise and what you need to know to promote your growth and the growth of others?