Adopt an ‘always learning’ mindset

Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella once said, “don’t be a know-it-all, be a learn-it-all.” 

Adopting this attitude, one devoted to continual learning, proactivity, and humility with regards to what you do not yet know, will get you far. In this issue of the Pulse, we look at how to adopt this mindset and the advancements it can bring to both your personal and work life.   

Make learning a priority.  

Nowadays, most careers expect you to have a motivated attitude towards professional development. In fact, according to Harvard Business Review, “adaptive and proactive learners are highly prized assets for organizations, and when we invest in our learning, we create long-term dividends for our career development.” 

When you don’t prioritize your lifelong learning, it can have a negative impact on your career and life in the long term. For example, it can: 

  • Prevent opportunities for career development and new, exciting trajectories. 
  • Reduces our resilience and adaptability.  
  • Leave us behind as the world advances with new technology, methods, and trends. 
  • Leave us feeling unmotivated and unfulfilled. 

On the other hand, investing intentionally in lifelong learning leads to: 

  • Continuous growth. 
  • Flexibility in a variety of situations and challenges. 
  • Improve problem-solving skills. 
  • Enhanced confidence. 
  • Better relationships and ‘people’ skills. 
  • Cognitive health and longevity. 

Work is the perfect place to practice continual learning.  

You might associate learning with school or personal endeavors but given the amount of time we spend at our jobs, the workplace is actually the ideal environment to adopt an ‘always learning’ mindset. Luckily, it doesn’t have to be as complicated as enrolling in another degree or taking additional classes. You can learn every day, often without spending a dime or adding too much more to your plate. 

So, how do you do it? 

Being mindful about the work you already do is a great way to start. For example, you can optimize the following daily activities to contribute to continuous learning: 

  • Collaboration – every colleague or contact offers a unique perspective, and taking the time to listen and learn from them will vastly diversify your mindset.  
  • Embracing curiosity – follow your motivation and your instincts by actively seeking out new information and experiences within your industry. 
  • Seek feedback – proactively make time for mutual feedback from peers and mentors to identify areas for development.  
  • Don’t avoid failure or mistakes – experiment outside your comfort zone and embrace opportunities as they arise.  
  • Seek out challenges – whether it’s situations that are new to you, or people to collaborate with who have different backgrounds and experience. 
  • Ask the right questions – questions that challenge existing methods and assumptions and might spark innovation. 

What else can you do? 

Outside of your regular activities, there are other strategies to implement. Some of these include: 

  • Creating manageable goals and holding yourself accountable to them. 
  • Diversify your learning sources – branch out and explore new learning sources and formats, including books, articles, podcasts, online courses, workshops, webinars, and seminars. 
  • Practice cognitive unloading – when you transfer something from your head into the physical world, like jotting down a note on a piece of paper, you are making space in your brain by physically unloading thoughts. 
  • Create a habit tracker – write down all the actions and activities you do by default over the course of a week to see what is contributing to your learning and development and what is not.  

Unlearning is important to continually learning.  

As Harvard Business Review explains, “unlearning means letting go of the safe and familiar and replacing it with something new and unknown. Skills and behaviors that helped you get to where you are can actually hold you back from getting to where you want to be.” 

To practice continual learning and development, unlearning is crucial. Maybe you need to unlearn sticking to your comfort zone, people pleasing, or avoiding collaboration. Whatever it is, it’s crucial to make sure you’re actively breaking patterns. 

At first, this process can be uncomfortable, but in the long run, will be great for your career development and overall wellbeing.  

In conclusion… 

There are immense benefits to adopting an attitude of lifelong learning. And the best part? It doesn’t take a drastic life change; just small adjustments to the way you already do things and unlearning unhelpful patterns.