Magazine article Work & Family Life

Time to Learn, Stretch and Grow in Your Work

Magazine article Work & Family Life

Time to Learn, Stretch and Grow in Your Work

Article excerpt

The ability to learn and to keep on learning may be the most important skill we can have. No matter what our job or profession, whether we work in a large corporation, small nonprofit agency, government bureaucracy, retail store, or our own firm or shop, we need to stay on top of - or, if possible, ahead of - the unrelenting acceleration of change and expansion of knowledge that's going on all around us.

Companies and organizations are finding that the challenges of change can only be met if people are able to recapture their innate ability to learn, and keep learning on a continual basis.

Look for learning moments

To thrive in the workplace, grow as individuals and help ensure our company's success, we need to reflect on our own experiences, be open to new perspectives and question our assumptions. As Alexander Pope once wrote, "Some people never learn anything, for this reason, because they understand everything too soon."

Just as when we were young children, we still need to be alert to our environment and sensitively engaged with others - so we don't miss those moments of learning that occur just as often outside the formal settings of seminars, courses and other training.

Make it a lifestyle choice

Continuous learning is an attitude, a belief system and, ultimately, a lifestyle we can choose - and the beginning of a new year is a good time to set some personal goals for learning in your work and on the job. Here are some suggestions:

VIEW YOUR WORKPLACE AS A COLLECTION OF RESOURCES FOR LEARNING. Find and use as many of these resources as possible.

* CONTINUOUSLY SEEK OUT AUTHENTIC, CONSTRUCTIVE FEEDBACK from your supervisors, peers, clients, customers and subordinates. Accept wholeheartedly a lateral move to work in an area of greater interest to you.

* UNDERSTAND YOUR OWN LEARNING STYLE. Do you learn best by reading, watching or listening?

* LISTEN WHEN YOU USUALLY TALK. Talk when you really have something to contribute. And really listen. Take notes at lectures and meetings.

* MASTER THE ART OF INQUIRY. Ask questions to gather information, not to illustrate your own knowledge. Ask questions without making arguments, accusations or judgments. Ask questions with meaning. Ask questions that are creative and will help you and others proceed in the best way.

* HAVE TWO BOOKS IN PROGRESS - one that's related to work and one that's purely for pleasure.

* SPEND A DAY WITH SOMEONE who does another kind of work. Ask what steps he or she took to solve a current workplace problem. …

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