Whilst organisations certainly have a role to play in encouraging lifelong learning, a true thirst for learning begins with the individual. Here’s how leaders can be the change they want to see when it comes to creating a learning culture.
When it comes to learning, it seems the old rulebook no longer applies. There are many factors at play which have led to ‘ability to learn’ being redefined as an essential skill: from changing dynamics in the recruitment sector, to the digital revolution, to new role definitions, remote and online training methods, and new regulatory frameworks supported by new legislation – the list goes on.
Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos summed it up when he said that Amazon “thinks like a day one business”. Why? It will never fall into the trap of complacency.
In a letter to shareholders, Bezos wrote: “I’ve been reminding people that it’s day one for a couple of decades… day two is stasis. Followed by irrelevance. Followed by excruciating, painful decline. Followed by death. And that is why it is always day one.”
CEOs, senior leaders, employees all must keep learning because of one simple word: relevance.
This refers not just to the relevance of the product or service the business provides, but also to its relevance as the provider of choice for customers, its relevance when pitched against its competitors and its relevance as an employer of choice for its people.
This can also be taken to a personal level. Ask yourself, ‘how relevant am I as a leader? How relevant am I as a team member’?
Each and every one of us owns our own performance through the conscious choices we make and our attitude towards learning.
There’s a great scene in a movie called The Blind Side, starring Sandra Bullock, which reinforces the importance of this point. In the scene, she is dropping her sons at the school gates, and her parting words to them both are, “have fun and learn something new today”.
While the ‘have fun’ part is important, it’s the second part that really struck me as central to success: ‘learn something new today’.
Sometimes, particularly as adults, we slip into the trap of complacency, operating in a state of unconsciousness where it feels like are just going through the motions.
Maintaining relevance is about being fresh, living life with deliberate conscious intent as the architect of your own destiny.
The day you begin to do this is the day you slip into a place that I call ‘the groove or the grave’, i.e. no man’s land. It’s the day you accept your place in the world of mediocrity where ‘just enough’ is good enough. It’s the day when you lose your edge and stop being your best self.
In an increasingly competitive world, there is no such thing as standing still. All around you, people are actively moving forward. Standing still really means that you’re falling behind.
‘Learn something new today’ should not just be something you do as a child – it’s a lifelong commitment. High achievers know this and it becomes part of their daily ritual.
High achievers have an insatiable thirst for learning, for showing up every day being the best version of themselves they can be. They spend their life being their own performance coach, ensuring they reach their true and maximum potential.
Become your own performance coach
One of the six core human needs is the need for growth – for emotional, intellectual or spiritual development. If you’re not learning and bettering yourself every day then you’re not growing.
Maintaining relevance is about being fresh, living life with deliberate conscious intent as the architect of your own destiny. It’s about learning and developing yourself. Perhaps most importantly, it about applied learning and having the attitude of action.
Remember, the day you stop learning is the day you stop earning. Keep feeding your mind, growing personally and professionally.
So, how do you ensure you’re on the pathway to becoming the best version of you? How do you become your own performance coach?
Let me ask you a question. When was the last time you read a biography, a business or educational book? A book that feeds your mind, emotions or spirit? If you’re not a keen reader the same question applies: when did you last purchase an audio book?
For example, if your daily commute is 1.5 hours a day, that’s 7.5 hours per week. The average audio book is 7 hours long. That’s one audio book per week you could be consuming in that time.
If you don’t have a long commute or drive to work, what about on the train, in the gym, or whilst out running? Turn your mode of transport into a learning environment (your university on wheels!) and imagine the potential you could unlock with just this one strategy.
You could also download podcasts, watch a TED talk, get active on Pinterest, join and participate in groups on Facebook or LinkedIn, attend a webinar, enroll in a course, or get active in the community.
Choose something to help you grow personally or professionally and, more importantly, something that creates the accountability to follow through.
Personalise your preferred learning plan and start to apply the concept of being your own performance coach.
Ask yourself the question: what have I learnt that’s new today? Reflect on your successes, achievements and learning opportunities at the end of each day.
Remember, the day you stop learning is the day you stop earning. Keep feeding your mind, growing personally and professionally in order to become the best version of you every single day. Nobody is going to do it for you - this is one job which definitely has your name on it.
Want to learn more about creating a learning culture at work? TrainingZone's learning culture hub has all the latest expert advice, practical tips and tools to help you on your way.
Royston Guest is a leading authority on growing businesses and unlocking people potential. Having spent two decades coaching and mentoring business owners, leaders and entrepreneurs Royston knows what it takes to build a great business.
An entrepreneur at heart, Royston sold his first business after 3yrs for £1.4m. Since then he’s built...