Be a Lifelong Learner

One of the reasons I’ve started writing again is because I believe I have much to learn. I’m young with many more youthful years ahead of me (I hope).

Recently, one of my business mentors shared about the need to be “lifelong learners”. That simply means to keep on growing yourself whether it be physically (to be fit), mentally (to be sharp) and spiritually (to be mature). Let me share a few principles that I have picked up along the way:

Learn to Teach Others

We learn best by passing on what we know. Have you ever had someone ask you to teach them something that you’ve just learnt recently? Whether its a skill or even some principle you picked up from a book or a conference – you reduce what you learn to a few thoughts and you use your own words to explain it.

Writing it down or rehashing some of the things we have been learning helps us remind ourselves the key points we’ve learnt and further engrains the learning in our minds.

Try it. Read thru a single chapter of a book and try summarizing it and sharing it with someone.

Learn to Continually Learn

We should never stop learning. The day you stop learning is the day you stop growing. We tend to think that growth (whether mental or spiritual) happens the same way as physical growth; almost automatically. We think growth happens by default.

No it doesn’t. Once we leave university, we have to move from being spoon-fed to feeding ourselves. Growth happens not by default, but by design.

We learn things by reading, listening or through experiences. Active learning as opposed to passive learning means being intentional to grow yourself. It means growing by design, to have a plan and some simple goals.

What can you do? Pick up a book. Attend a conference. Challenge yourself to learn something new. Keep on learning.

Apply and Keep Applying

You know the quote,”Give a man a fish and you will feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you will feed him for a lifetime”. The wise man continually applies what is being taught.

Naturally we are bad learners. Only learning and never applying strips us of the fruits we could enjoy when we do apply.

So start small. Pick something you’ve learnt and start applying it into your life. You’ll be surprised and you’ll enjoy reaping the fruits of having done the application.

“What I hear, I forget;
What I see, I remember;
What I do, I understand.”

 – Chinese proverb

In summary, these 3 principles are incredibly basic but highly important if we are to grow to be lifelong learners.

  1. Teach others.
  2. Teach yourself.
  3. Apply.