August 13, 2019

2 Things I’ve learned about ‘Learning’

We are all born with the capacity to be lifelong learners. But the irony is our perception that we stop ‘learning’ after a certain age or at least, that’s how we think.

Reminds me of when we used to be kids or teenagers, we would just grasp every bit of information around us, good and bad, just absorb all piece of data that comes our way.

We process all information, whatever we see or hear, with all the limited knowledge and experience we have and make the best possible conclusions within our capacity. Many times we were wrong, and realize it after it’s too late. Nevertheless, it was a good learning process, and some of those life lessons stayed with us for pretty much a long period, if not forever.

Even now, try giving the kids of this generation a new smartphone and within a few minutes, they will figure out where the games are, and how to play it, even before their parents figure out where the camera button is.  This is the speed of our capacity for learning in today’s digital age.

You will often see a kid crying and breaking down near a broken toy, but get him or her a new toy and instantly, all old memories of the broken toys are wiped out within a fraction of seconds. This is another process of unlearning. For kids, it is so easy to replace old outdated information that is no longer valid with new updated ones.

But for the older generation, it’s slightly complicated.

It makes me wonder – What is it about learning that makes it so difficult after a certain phase in life? How does the human mind perceive learning?

After years of battling with these relentless questions that seem to pop in my head over and over again, these are three points I’ve learned.

 

  1. You cannot learn if you think you’re already full

The biggest psychological limitation for older generations in learning is that we already think we know a lot, or at least enough to survive for the rest of our lives. That makes every new opportunity of learning seem like an optional extra burden on top of the existing storage of information. So, we end up treating them lesser of value and are not able to see it for all its worth.

It also comes from a lack of self-awareness. This calls out for the benefit of being with people who are wiser and more efficient than us. People who give you honest feedback and help you identify your weaknesses and potential areas to grow to push you to your limits, and remind you that no matter how experienced you become, life is a constant process of unlearning and relearning, and there is room to grow and learn at every stage of life.

 

  1. You learn when it’s a choice, not an obligation

Many training programs don’t deliver the impact it promises, not because the training resources or trainers weren’t great, but only because the learners took part in the training out of obligation and not their personal choice.

There is something about rules and restrictions that dismantles our natural process of learning and distracts us from a different emotional tangent. It locks down the openness of our minds and puts us in a box that only listens but doesn’t understand, only thinks but never changes.

This is why an open receptive mind is a prerequisite for learning. Unless the learners feel the ownership of their learning process and self-development, learning will always fail to serve its purpose.

At the end of the day, the bottom line of learning is relatability and personalization. Relevance with what I’m going to learn, and personalization in how I want to learn.

Every new day is an opportunity to grow, mentally, physically and emotionally. Whether it’s a formal learning in a classroom or online course, or the daily life lessons we learn from people and all that is happening around us, there’s always a room to grow and a lesson to learn, as long as we make the choice.

It all begins with a choice. So, what do you choose today?