This is the fourth installment in our 25-week series exploring the 25 competencies, or soft skills, that our assessments measure. Each week we’ll give you the definition of that competency, explain its value, and give you tips to help you develop it.
This week: Continuous Learning.
Continuous Learning is taking initiative to regularly learn new concepts, technologies, and/or methods. A continuous learner is someone who goes out of their way to prioritize learning. They are eager to delve deep into subjects that interest them. They see learning as an important way to grow and develop.
People who are strongly motivated by Continuous Learning are eager to find opportunities to obtain training and educational growth opportunities. People who are not strongly motivated by Continuous Learning may pass up opportunities for personal growth. And, thus, may be passed by when the time for promotion comes, due to their lack of enthusiasm about improving their skills.
Most successful people actively pursue learning opportunities every day. They may attend seminars, classes, and conferences. They may take on special challenges in the workplace. They’ll dissect errors they made and determine how to avoid them in the future. They may research topics within their fields and become experts. In the best cases, successful people do all of these things, and they do them with enthusiasm. Continuous Learning motivates people to action. And that motivation is based on the importance a person places on improving oneself.
To reach your full potential, you must have an accurate understanding of your strengths and weaknesses.
In order to get a clear picture of your positive and negative traits, you need to be open to receiving feedback. You can combine insights and areas for improvement provided by your peers and your managers with your own insights about what you’re good at and what you’re not.
Once you have identified some areas for growth, you can then determine your goals for continuous learning. You can identify practical steps toward developing the knowledge and skills you need. Setting goals is the first step in effectively approaching a continuous learning plan.
Today’s workplace requires that you keep pace and continually learn new procedures, strategies, and technologies. It’s the only way to stay abreast of developments in your field. It is your responsibility to dedicate yourself to broadening your knowledge in areas that apply to your business. So work to create and stick to a rational, well-thought-out continuous learning plan. Effective continuous learning involves taking deliberate action in creating and taking advantage of learning opportunities. In addition, you must reflect carefully on what you have learned. That way you can be sure to make your new skills or knowledge part of your daily routine.
Continuous Learning is valuable in so many ways.
It can help expand your possibilities by bringing new opportunities or paths to light. Continuous Learning can help you establish new perspectives in areas of life you hadn’t previously spent much time in. It can make you a great trivia teammate by providing you with knowledge about a variety of areas. But, most valuable of all, it can improve your decision-making. By giving you a more well-rounded perspective.
Those who are skilled in Continuous Learning are always looking for the next perspective. The next thought leader to follow, the next hypothesis about how something works. This gives them a great starting point when decisions need to be made, especially longer-term strategic ones. They are constantly adding to their personal body of knowledge which allows them to pull from many different viewpoints in order to make the best decision possible.
If you’d like to be a more continuous learner, start reading more.
You can read articles, blogs, newspapers, books, academic papers, anything really. Find a medium that works for you and get started. Maybe you prefer shorter pieces on a variety of subjects, try subscribing to a trade magazine about your industry. Maybe you prefer delving deep into a particular subject, find a best seller and dig in. Whichever way you prefer to consume the content, you have to make sure that you prioritize finding the time to read it. Set aside a block of time somewhere in your week to make it happen.
It’s important not to just consume all that content, but to process it as well. Make sure that you’re taking the time to reflect on each article or book that you are reading to come away with new insights. Analyze what you’re taking in to make sure that you are gleaning new information and new perspectives that can help you grow. Work hard to identify at least one critical insight in everything you read and determine how you can apply that knowledge to your daily work.
Continuous Learning means continuous growth.
As humans, we all want to grow and improve. Continuous Learning is a great skill to help you do that. Stay curious and stay open to new ideas and new approaches. Don’t let yourself get comfortable and stuck. Push yourself to grow and improve consistently. Even in small ways. This type of growth mindset will help you be a better leader, a better coworker, and a better human being.
To wrap up this week, I’d like to point out that you should not be striving to develop all 25 of these skills.
Now that we’re a month in, it’s a great time to remind you that you can’t be perfect at everything. And you don’t need to be. Certain skills will be more important for certain roles, so the goal is to develop the five to seven skills that will make you the most successful in your current role. So as we continue through this series, start to think about which skills are most important for your job.
And, as a leader, you have the added luxury of being able to focus on the skills that you enjoy. If, for instance, you do not want to become a continuous learner, you can find someone else on your team who is and lean on their knowledge. Just make sure that you show your appreciation for them and the skills they possess.
If you’d like to learn more ways to develop your Continuous Learning, download our Continuous Learning Rx PDF here.
Written in part by TTI Success Insights.