Have you every stopped to consider what it means to learn?
Most of us go through 12 years of traditional schooling, constantly being told we need to learn. Yet by the time we reach adulthood, few of us have questioned what learning is, or why it might be of value.
Over the years of studying personal development, I have had some powerful realizations about learning and what it means for the success I seek.
It seems to me that if you truly understand the value of learning you move faster much quicker towards the things you want, with a lot less struggle.
The first thing insight about learning is that it is not simply adding more information into your brain. In fact it is almost the opposite.
Learning is clarifying and refining. It is taking away ignorance and misconceptions that are not relevant. Think of learning like sculpting a big block of marble. If you keep refining and understanding more, you slowly create a rough outline and shape.
Over time that shape can be further polished and refined down to a precise, clean, elegant piece. But it’s only because you kept making distinctions and learning more.
If you stop at the early stages of sculpting, you get a big chunky mess. In terms of learning, sometimes that is ok, as long as the knowledge isn’t relevant to your life. But if it is an area you’d like to master or achieve more in, then refinement is needed.
The second insight about learning is that it is a form of assimilating. This means absorbing parts of the outside world into your inner world. You are essentially making a copy of somebody else’s schema and adding it into your own.
Assimilating knowledge of any kind will add value to what you already know, as it helps to further refine and clarify. There is no loss of value from you knowing more, especially if you are learning from somebody who is already quite skilled in somethings you want to know.
The greater your ability to assimilate, the more you can start to invent new ways of doing things yourself. Learning by assimilating allows you to start to better trust your own judgement based on the facts that you’ve got in your memory bank.
The third and perhaps most valuable insight I’ve had about learning is that ‘True learning equals behavior change’. I first heard this idea from NLP trainer Wyatt Woodsmall. He posits that if there is no actual change in how you behave then you haven’t learned something.
A new theory about anything is great, but a true lesson contains a method for changing your behavior. If you can manage to learn something that changes your way of acting or reacting then you have truly learned.
I also learned another great insight from Alan Weiss “The inside track to success is like a steeplechase. We negotiate hurdles, wind, water hazards and other runners. But once around that course, and it should be familiar to us now. If we keep slipping in the same place of make the same inadequate leap, then it’s no longer the course, it’s us.”
These three concepts might sound a little highfaluting when you first read them, but believe me they will add value to your life if you keep them in mind.
The more deliberate you are about learning, the more you will find your path in life opening up in front of you. The world today is full of incredible amounts of information. By consciously deciding to learn more, you put yourself in a position to succeed.