Learning as a habit

You’ve seen how many businesses, especially startups, value curiosity in their workforce.

You may ask, why is this?

Well, we live in the knowledge economy, so it’s no longer about whether you can do something, but more about what ideas you are bringing to the table. Notably, as part of Google’s recruitment process, they are looking for what they call ‘learning animals’ – people who are naturally driven to learn on their own.

There’s a famous quote from the poet John Dryden:

“First you make your habits, then your habits make you.”

How do we become curious in our roles?

This is through learning, whether that’s watching the latest TED talk, reading a book, learning from our peers or going on a course.  Learning is everywhere for us.  

Instead of managing my success on numbers, objectives, results and other business things…instead, I ask the question ‘What have I learnt today’.

Unfortunately, typical corporate learning isn’t always convenient and relevant to employees with a trainer talking at you from the front of a classroom.  As learners, we demand more than that.

We need learning that’s personal, when we want it, in a range of delivery models.  After all, we are all living in a extremely fast paced working environment.

So, how can we make learning at the centre of everything we do?

Well, it’s about practice and habits.  Yes, you must have the urge to learn something new, but you can also teach yourself to become a curious lifelong learner.  It’s all about habits.

Here’s a few steps to take …

  1. Start the day with an objective to learn something – create this ‘habit’ to start every day in this way
  2. Agree where and how you will learn – on the commute to work, having a coffee with a colleague who you know has the knowledge, watching a video on YouTube
  3. Continuous learning – don’t stop, keep going, if you like the subject you are exploring … continue, if not then change it!

As Malcolm Gladwell in his book ‘Outliers’, and Matthew Syed – the famous table tennis player – said in his book ‘Bounce’ – you can become an expert in anything if you spend 10,000 hours focusing on it. With learning as with any other skill, the more you do of it, the better you get.

There are many tools out there to curate the content which interests you.

For example, from Apple News you can learn about the latest trends in technology.  Another tool is called Feedly which brings in personal content from a range of sources such as Harvard Management Tips.

You can also check out apps for learning, I personally have used Google Primer to learn about marketing techniques and also YouTube’s TED channel is fascinating if you want to be inspired, within this, there are a series of different ‘channels’ from business to finance.

Medium is a great tool to follow bloggers that you are interested in learning from, the good ones often post new topics weekly which you can read, you can also highlight text for future reference.

‘Read it later’ apps are great, especially if you are travelling internationally and struggling for wifi connection, for example, Pocket is one I use alot.

Live with lifelong learning!


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