We may ask this question of children when they’re at school, but we rarely ask it of ourselves on a regular basis. And yet it is an essential aspect of being human: our continuing to learn and develop ourselves. Now when we’re at school, there is an expectation that we will learn new facts and new skills, and we are tested and judged on our ability to do so. As we grow older, there is not generally the same encouragement – or pressure! – to continue to develop our skills and capabilities. One of the things we seem to learn at school is that learning is about coming to grips with something new, and there is less necessity for that as we settle into our particular career and way of life.
However, learning is so much more than that! When we talk about learning from experience, we are talking about the real process of learning: it is the gradual refining of our awareness, our understanding, our skills, and applying them to enhance our lives. We do this by reflecting on what our experiences are like, then taking the parts that work best for us and looking for ways to improve things that don’t work so well.
You may not realise you do this, because it is a natural process – our brains are designed to help us to do it. It is what Darwin described as the survival of the fittest – the process of adapting and refining the way we live our lives, so as to fit into and thrive in our world. We can’t help but do it as we go through our experiences.
So the question is not whether we have learnt anything today, but what we have learnt. When we are not conscious of what we are doing, we can be learning things that seem useful to us, but are not really helping us to be the best we can be and live our lives well. We may have learnt that it’s a good idea to keep your opinions to yourself if you want the boss to approve of you; or that you always have to put others first and be useful to them if you want to be seen as a good person; or that suppressing your values of what’s right and wrong is necessary to fit in. Of course, you will also have learnt some more useful lessons that do help you to be more of who you really are, but for many of us, our continuing learning has diminished rather than enhanced our lives and the way we live them.
It’s important that we set time to reflect on our learning. It might be at the end of the week or perhaps at the end of a month. When we become conscious of this form of learning, we are constantly evolving ourselves, refining our approach to work and life to ensure it becomes better and easier for us. When we learn from our mistakes, and as importantly when we learn from what we do well, then work and life just works!
It’s easy to dismiss our personal development as something that is a ‘nice extra’ to our life and work, however if we don’t give it any importance or any time, then we can get the feeling that we are going round and round in circles, hitting the same blocks and making the same mistakes. It can be very disheartening.
As human beings we love to learn and grow and when we aren’t consciously learning we can feel that we are not moving forward, that we are in stasis. Organisations rarely have the funds these days to do much more than the most essential of technical training, and so our personal and professional development is often left down to us. So what will you do to ensure that you are consciously learning?
At Meta we are committed to identifying easy and useful ways in which people can develop and grow into being the best of themselves, and sharing those ways with as many as possible. We know it’s possible to learn in ways that transform your life into one of possibilities rather than constraints. Isn’t this what we’re really here on earth to do?
Our Journey to Mastery programme is one of the vehicles we have developed that helps you to identify ways of enhancing your life through conscious application of your natural learning process, and we are starting a new programme in January 2017.
So if you’d like to kick start your own personal development plan for 2017, why not consider joining us for this transformational programme?
For more information and some testimonials from those who have already done the programme check our events page – www.meta-org.com/events
And we are not just pushing our programme, we believe its time for everyone to start reviewing their own learning. This year? I’ve learnt so much (often through adversity!) and you know what? When I stopped recently to say ‘what did I learn from all my challenges this year?’ it really amazed me just how much I got from it, and it really made me feel better to know just how much I had learnt. I’m also sure that as a result that NEXT year will be far better as a result.
So why not put aside sometime in your work-diary to review what you have learnt this year, we think that if you do, it’ll give you plenty to think about and might just make you feel a lot better about the year you’ve had!