“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” – Dr. Seuss
With ‘Learning at Work Week’ coming up (May 18th), we thought it might be a good time to talk about why learning is such an important thing. Adding new skills or learning new information are things that many adults do not actively peruse, which is a shame considering what a positive move learning something new can be.
As adults, our brains need regular exercise, just as our bodies do. When our brains were young, as children, the digestion and assimilation of fresh information came more naturally, as learning was an essential ingredient to developing a fully functioning adult brain. But as adults, when new skills are not absolutely necessary, we have to take it upon our conscious selves to continue our brain growth journey.
There is nothing wrong with cruising through a career. If you are the type of person that is happy where you are, then fantastic. But, what I would say, is that new learning or training is not just about moving up a ladder or bulking out a paycheck, it is also about personal wellbeing and overall satisfaction. So, maybe it’s time to try and give something new a go! Here’s why…
1. Sense of Worth
It is easy to get stuck in a rut. Often, people convince themselves that they are fine where they are. They do so for so long that when the question of taking a risk, learning something new, or leaping a hurdle to move up in the workplace comes along, their low self-esteem tells them that it’s too scary, or that they do not have the capacity to do it. This is where one really needs to take a deep breath, ignore the voices, and leap into something new. The sense of worth and achievement we get from gaining new skills is enormous. When we are children, we feel this all the time, and it feels amazing. But it doesn’t happen so often as adults, and we forget this feeling. The feeling of achievement. The feeling of worth. Regular learning opportunities will ensure that you feel this sense of achievement much more often.
2. Financial Gain
Of course, when it comes to the workplace, financial gain is always a good incentive to learn and diversify your skills. However, even if getting promoted or financially rewarded is not your goal when perusing new avenues, you would be surprised how often these innocently obtained skills make you a more desirable employee.
3. Unexpected Opportunity
As alluded to in the previous paragraph, new skills often open unexpected doors. I am a freelancer, and have often been taken on for a job that required a specific set of skills. During the said job, it would be discovered that I can also provide another set of skills, which has led to me being employed by the same people again, but in a different role, making use of different skills. Learning always pays off.
4. The Unlocking of Creativity
It is easy to arrive at adulthood and convince yourself that your brain works in a certain way and that there are no other angles from which you can look at things or solve problems. In fact, what many people find, is that when they learn something new, even if it is something they are learning for pleasure or to invest in their personal wellbeing, is that teaches their brain to come at problems from different directions, enabling them to think both more broadly and more creatively. This happens most dramatically when the person in question takes on a new skill that is completely out of their normal spheres of interest.
5. New Connections
We don’t meet as many new people when we grow up. If you work in a single workplace, you will probably not be used to encountering fresh faces and new opinions on a regular basis. Learning environments put us among new people on a regular basis, making our exposure to different backgrounds and ideas broader. This is an important and underrated consequence of perusing new skills; the broadening of horizons, and the unexpected new connections that we make. Meeting, and connecting with, new people are skills. Skills that are very valuable throughout many workplaces and industries.
By Chris Thomson
Adaptation and the ability to learn is something that should be practices, wherever your position in an organisation is. If you are at the top, then your ability to execute conscious leadership depends on it, especially right now…Adapting Your Leadership Approach for the ‘New Normal’
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