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Lifelong Learning

“Yep…that’s me, learning every day.”

My guess is that this is the response that runs through most of our heads when we hear the reference to “Lifelong Learning” (LLL).

Here’s what Wikipedia says about Lifelong Learning:

Lifelong Learning is the concept that “It’s never too soon or too late for learning”, a philosophy that has taken root in a whole host of different organizations. Lifelong Learning is attitudinal; that one can and should be open to new ideas, decisions, skills or behaviors. Lifelong Learning throws the axiom “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks” out the door. Lifelong Learning sees citizens provided with learning opportunities at all ages and in numerous contexts: at work, at home and through leisure activities, not just through formal channels such as school and higher education.

In a Leadership Foundation class I completed last year, I learned that transformational LLL requires a much different mind set. In the class, which I have to give credit to for stirring my innate Learning strength, we unpacked the following learning questions:

Why should I learn?

What should I learn?

How can I learn?

Why should I learn? … dealt with the motivation that is necessary for LLL. We each need to discover our own motivators. Here were a few motivator examples provided:

1)       We live in the information age and more than any time in history, life is all about information, getting it, processing it, interpreting it, understanding it and utilizing it. In such a world, learning is a core skill.

2)       Closely related to 1) is the reality of change. Life is constantly changing. The speed of change, the intensity of change, the power of change and the outcomes of changer are greater than ever before. In a world of change, success goes only to those who can keep up with the change. Those who do not change will not survive.

3)       Learning means growing. Think of words that describe the opposite of growth. Stunted, stagnant, stale, stuck, frustrated, inactive, regressing, retreating, boring, irrelevant, outdated, obsolete, aborted, complacent, etc. are words that describe the lack of growing and learning. Why would anyone want those words used to describe them?

4)       Your untapped potential will be tapped through the learning process. Without an active learning process/model, you will not achieve your true potential.

5)       There are many, many others….

What should I learn?… is about the direction. Where should I direct my learning energies? Here is where you tap into the question of what field or what area or what topic of study. This requires you to become self-aware of what is important, useful and necessary for your personal and professional life.

How can I learn?…is about the plan/strategy. This is very similar to what our staff has experienced in the A & D process in outlining an approach that explains in concrete, realistic ways – what you will do to learn what you want to learn.

Deep, meaningful, and transforming Life Long Learning doesn’t happen by accident. It requires discipline, sacrifice, hard work, and commitment…and yes, you may have to cut back on your nightly TV time if you’re serious about LLL.

Have you embraced LLL?

Do you have a plan?

What a great time to develop a plan… and start the learning journey as we enter 2010!

And remember –

LLL is a marathon, not a sprint. What matters most though is that you start the race well, and keep a good pace while realizing there are many more miles (and years) that lie ahead.

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