Continual learning: Why it’s more important than ever before

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Picture: SnFC Coach Team after a spending another day learning :)

All around the world, people are going back to school, taking online courses, mastering additional languages, etc. — all in the spirit of growth and continual learning.

Learning is essential

With today’s more complex and highly competitive business environment, learning is not just a nice thing to do — it is essential for staying on top of things. Especially during times of recession, it is important for people to learn new skills and enhance their marketability.

Sometimes i’m surprised how low the commitment to continual learning is – especially if people run there “own” business. People can spend hours to plan holiday trips, hunting for best food eating places or just spending a lot of valuable time in front of the TV.

Can you really afford to remain stagnant?

None of us can afford to remain stagnant in our knowledge. Organizations need to ensure that individuals keep learning. To do this, they must create a culture of self-directed learners who are excited about learning and incentivized to advance knowledge and skills.

We can no longer view learning as a one-time event where we attend a college or university, get a degree and are then “done” learning. Instead, learning should be an ongoing process. We have to keep enhancing our skills in critical thinking, creativity and innovation, analytics, people and leadership and networking, among other knowledge and skills.

To do this, create a continual learning development plan and identify personal and professional goals and a realistic timeline for achieving those goals.

For companies to be considered learning organizations, they need to ensure that there is learning at the individual, team and organizational levels.

At the individual level, they need to make sure there are plenty of learning opportunities available. These could include encouraging employees to read books, enroll in seminars and workshops, be part of mentoring programs, hold informal brown bag lunch sessions where individuals can talk about specific topics, bring in speakers to talk on current issues and go back to school.

At the organizational level, there have to be systems in place to analyze the current learning climate, what opportunities are desired and how to bridge the discovered gaps.

Benefits of continual learning

Improve the learning processPeople who make learning a priority will often identify the numerous benefits of investing in continual learning. These include:

  • Being able to keep current with trends and developments in an industry
  • Building a knowledge base to identify problems and generate solutions
  • Being more resilient to market changes and fluctuations (i.e., being more marketable, especially during recessions)
  • Stimulating the mind to keep inspired and excited
  • Enhancing self-confidence about a topic or issue

So, the question is: What are you doing today to expand your knowledge and skills so you will be better prepared for tomorrow?

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Adopting a learning mind-set where you look for opportunities to grow, whether in your personal life (such as learning a new sport, hobby or traveling) or professional life (learning a new subject area, skill or taking on a new job) will keep you stimulated and prepared for the changing world around you. In addition, you might just have fun in the process.

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