12 ways to learn (and why you should never stop)

Posted on October 13, 2013

In order to succeed, to change your life, to grow, to achieve financial independence or happiness (or both!), you have to learn. You must learn new skills, learn a new mindset, and simply learn to learn. The greatest obstacle  that stops us human beings from moving forward and growing is our own reluctance to embrace learning. We seem to be much happier living with our reservations and hesitations, and we always seem to have an excuse why we don’t need to learn.

1) Learning by doing

One of the simplest but sometimes scariest ways to learn new skills is to just start doing. Many issues in personal life or business are best dealt with simply by making a start. If you have a business idea, rather than spending months and months of analysing it, you should try to find ways to start testing it with your potential customers as soon as possible in order to learn if your idea is actually viable. (Read ‘Lean Start-up‘ if you want to study first!) But rather than reading a book about Twitter you should just start using it and learn as you get more experience.

2) Learn by getting outside your comfort zone

What stops us from learning is our pride and the fear of being exposed. If you believe your worth is dependable on how much you know, how smart you are or what’s your tittle it might be very difficult for you to open the door to learning unreservedly. It’s a shame, as you learn faster when you are seek new situations and expose yourself to failure.

We strongly believe life is about learning and the only way to live fully is to keep exposing yourself outside of your comfort zone. Don’t blame the circumstances (‘I don’t have the opportunity to try this because…’), you must create the opportunities yourself.

3) Learn by practicing

Doing something once is only a start. If you really want to learn a new skill or how to deal with pressure and stress, for instance, you must keep exposing yourself to that situation over and over again. It’s like training a muscle, you need a lot of repetition to get a 6-pack!

4) Learn to fail (and get back up)

Everything you do and learn is not going to be a great success. The faster you fail, the sooner you can bounce back and start learning some other new skills to take you to a new direction.

A child falls 17 times per hour (!!) when she practises walking. Why should you give up this great skill of getting up and trying again ( ie. learning) just because you are now 35 years old!? It’s your ego that prevents you from learning.

5) Learn to improve

As you get better at something – be it interpersonal skills, how to handle stress or manage a business –  you grow faster, and thus you normally get to practise it more often. There is a risk that our ego gets in our way and we want to stop learning, because now we know it all. Not a good idea, just look what happened to Nokia! To succeed we must adopt a ‘keep improving’ mindset.

6) Learn from everyone 

Every human being has had different experiences than you. And most likely everyone is better than you at something. You might be the smartest girl in the room but someone else is going to be more practical than you or better at client service. Don’t let your prejudice and pride stop you from learning every time you meet a new person (or an old friend).

7) Learn again

Make notes! Always keep a notepad with you. A great learning opportunity might strike suddenly, anywhere, anytime. Write things down so you can learn what you learned again and again. It’s great to internalise and we all think we remember a lot more than what actually can be retrieved back from our memory.

8) Learn for the future

Learning by doing is a great way to learn, but if you want really move onto a new level in life you must read – books, articles, blog posts, comments, and your notes. Think of reading like putting valuable assets in your a backpack. You will ‘carry’ everything you read with you for the future and when faced with challenges you can retrieve something you read earlier to help you solve the problem.

True learning happens much later than when you read the book. Sometimes I find myself using ideas that I read about 5 years ago. If you are not reading now you will have nothing in your ‘backpack’ when you need it!

9) Learn to prioritise what to learn

Getting used to constant learning is a learning process in itself. In the beginning you might chose to read anything and everything. At first this might feel you are wasting 50% of your time and you probably are, but only through learning a lot of different things you are be able to know what you really should be reading. Same goes for starting a business. At first you try to make every meeting and grab every opportunity. As time passes and you become more successful (through learning!), you will learn to select which meetings are useful either for sales, or learning.

10) Learn by copying

There are not that many truly unique new ideas in this world. Everyone is copying everyone else’s ideas. There is nothing wrong with that. Don’t try to be unique. Copy and imitate until you learn and then make it yours by being your true self! Gain the confidence to use your talents to use the learning, do it in your own style using your personality, adapt it to match your values and use it to advance your purpose. That’s unique!

11) Learn by teaching

One of the greatest ways to learn is to learn together. And I’m not talking about sitting in a class room with other people listening to a talking head. When we share our challenges with each other we learn much faster than mulling everything over in our heads. If you have just learned something by stepping outside of your comfort zone and you then share that experience with others your learning from that situation will become much stronger. To learn is to help others to learn.

12) Learn to learn

The more you learn the more you want to learn!

When you give up your guard and expose your vulnerability you can use all your energy to learn rather than to defend your position. Self-control, limitations, prejudice and your beliefs can’t stop you from learning more. When you are not afraid of negative feelings, failure or the insecurity of your future you are free to embrace every chance you get to learn. You have learned to learn.

Swallow your pride and do yourself a favour – start learning!

Don’t postpone it. Write down five things (skills, mindsets, or topics) you must learn in order to rise to a new level in your life.

Have a great week of learning!

~ Miisa

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