Never Stop Learning

17 december 2018

For this week’s #ConnectWithContent,  we dug into some great content about the importance of LifeLong Learning, the role that HR has to play in supporting the workforce to become lifelong learners, why HR has to lead by example, adopting a lifelong learning attitude themselves and what you, as a professional can do yourself. We made a mashup of 5 articles and included to links at the end of the article if you want to dive in deeper….

Enjoy this week’s read and keep on learning!

With the current workforce predicted to continue working into their 70s and 80s, professor of management practice at London Business School Lynda Gratton is passionate about helping employers to effectively utilise their multi-generational talent pool by encouraging a new approach to people management. The key, not just for older workers, she says, is lifelong learning.

We totally agree! We should NEVER stop learning!

From new grads to great grandmothers, age is no barrier to adopt a lifelong learning mindset and attitude. Doreetha Daniels graduated from College of the Canyons in Santa Clarita, California with an associate degree in social sciences at the age of 99. Few of us will pursue college degrees as nonagenarians, or even as mid-career professionals, some people never really liked school in the first place and almost all of us have limits on our time and finances — due to kids, social organizations, work, and more — that make additional formal education impractical or impossible.


But, learning isn’t simply about earning degrees or attending storied institutions.

In our everyday life, each of us is offered the opportunity to pursue intellectual development in ways that are tailored to our own personal learning style. So why don’t more of us seize that opportunity? We know it’s worth the time, and yet we don’t find (?) the time.

The future of the workforce is underpinned by lifelong learning

Technological advances combined with globalization and the accelerated pace of change, require every professional - no matter what industry you’re in - to master the art of agile learning. Staying current is a key to success to avoid becoming obsolete in today’s marketplace.

No matter what function you are in, lifelong learning is an implicit part of your job description.

Whatever your learning style or preferred learning mode, some form of continuing education must be integrated into your career and every professional needs to find time to pursue learning on a continual basis and aime to become an agile learner.


An Agile learner?

An agile learner is someone who learns on the fly and has mastered the art of how to learn fast.

Agile learners are passionate about learning and continual education, pragmatic about connecting learning to practice (that is, connecting learning to business needs),open-minded, curious and bold. They are dedicated to continuously develop themselves throughout their lifetime.

Agility and adaptability – the two big ‘As’ of the 21st century

And both come down to learning...

The World Economic Forum cites a popular estimate that 65% of children going into primary school today will pursue careers that don’t currently exist. So how do we prepare ourselves and future generations for jobs that don’t yet exist?
People are increasingly realising how vital a fluid skillset is to their future employability. Lifelong learning gives people the opportunity to upskill themselves and to bolster their resilience through renewed confidence in their capabilities.
And corporates and HR have a big role to play in encouraging employees to upskill throughout their working lives.

This is an area where corporates really need to ramp up their investment so they build agile workplaces that keep up with the pace of change.

HR has to make sure the entire workforce continues to learn. That might be something small or getting a qualification; anything that keeps them in the habit of learning.

Referring to a hockey game, Tim Reed, CEO of MYOB (an Australian software company) said it’s about skating to where the puck will be.

Business leaders need to harness their foresight to identify the skills-gaps that could occur five years down the track and work on training their existing people now.

This way employers can avoid finding themselves in the position where they are forced to axe thousands of employees, even as they have to hire 2,000 new staff with different skills, Rim Reed says. And he’s right, don’t you agree?

And HR should take the lead!

This is a fantastic time for HR. It’s a huge responsibility we face in the future of work. Putting people at the centre of business thinking – that is what HR doest. What a purposeful profession we can be. And while HR is worrying about the learning of development of others, they should not forget about themselves. 

Learning to learn...

Agile learners and learnatics truly want to understand and master new skills; we see ourselves very clearly; we constantly think of and ask questions; tolerate our mistakes as we move up the learning curve.

This comes natural to learnatics, but not to everyone...

Drawing on research in psychology and management the authors of this article we found in Harvard Business Review, identified 4 fairly simple mental tools anyone can develop to boost the four attributes to succeed in Lifelong Learning:

  1. self-awareness,
  2. aspiration,
  3. curiosity,
  4. vulnerability.

Our absolute favorite is curiosity: children are relentless in their urge to learn and master. As John Medina writes in Brain Rules, “This need for explanation is so powerfully stitched into their experience that some scientists describe it as a drive, just as hunger and thirst and sex are drives.”

Curiosity is what makes us try something until we can do it, or think about something until we understand it. Great learners retain this childhood drive, or regain it through another application of self-talk. Instead of focusing on and reinforcing initial disinterest in a new subject, they learn to ask themselves “curious questions” about it and follow those questions up with actions.


Be sure to read the entire article if you want to learn to learn…

Learning is also about managing yourself…

Did you know that today we consume five times more information every day than we did in 1986: an incredible amount that’s equivalent to a 174 newspapers…a day? Unfortunately this does not translate into increased knowledge.


We’re consuming more information but not learning more.
In short, we have become less productive learners.

But by applying an intentional approach to consuming information we can become more productive learners and this great article, also from Harvard Business review shares us 4 ways how:

  • Focus the majority of your information consumption on a single topic for several months: Rather than letting the headline tides pull you along, pick a topic and focus your reading and viewing on that topic
  • Put what you’re learning into frameworks: Frameworks act as the internal architecture for our brains, creating rooms for the information we receive, helping you to retain new information by associating it in a structured, repeatable way with what you already know.
  • Regularly synthesize what you have learned: this means that you put together parts to form a whole, with emphasis on creating a new meaning or structure. Synthesizing is challenging because it involves making sense of the new information in light of everything you already know. It’s not the same as summarizing! Synthesizing involves bringing your opinion to bear about what is important while summarizing is merely a brief regurgitation of the information. That’s what I do every time I read an article, when I attend a conference, when I engage in conversations with peers:  “What are my key takeaways?”
  • Cycle between information feasting and information fasting: It’s key to have seasons when you limit your consumption of information, so you can focus on reviewing, considering, and applying what you’ve already consumed. 


Want to learn more: dig into this article yourself and become a more productive learner, or even a learnatic!

Talk to you next week!


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