Learn to Change to Learn

In 2009, I spent 11 months on learning new topics and few of them even mastered.

  • Software Languages: PHP, JavaScript, HTML5, CSS3, Python…
  • Software: Photoshop, Illustrator, Edge Animate, WordPress(duh!),
  • Skills: Graphics Design, Drawing/Sketching, Gamification
  • Business topics: Investment, Product Management. Strategy

All, this is apart from my regular  ‘thirst for knowledge’ on topics related to my work , my interests ( in marketing, technology, strategy)..

When I share this with my friends and colleagues , most of them react the same way by saying ‘come on, that can’t be true’ , then I brag a bit more by quoting instances where I have used this knowledge and they may have seen the results . Then their next statement is ‘ but, how do you find the time to learn so much so fast?’.

That, is the question I am going to elaborately answer now .

1. Its not about making time, its about making it a habit. Then you won’t need to make time for learning.

Lets face the truth, you can’t change yourself overnight. But the question you need to answer to yourself , ‘are you willing to change?’. If you answered yes, then its about taking baby steps towards it. If you also have this itch that you want to gain knowledge, then start by at least reading 1 article about your favourite topic on any website or any blog or MY BLOG :). Make it a point to read 1 every day you will notice your hunger for knowing more will increase day by day, and over a period of time you would be learning and knowing so much more than your current self. You can call yourself ME 2.0 (sorry I am from the software world, had to add versioning somewhere).

This is exemplified in a TED talk by Matt Cutts (blog, twitter: @mattcutts)

2. Learning is fun

There are many ways to learn anything you want to learn, its about finding the right method suited for you.(as you are no longer in structured education system, where others tell you the right method). Example for me, I don’t enjoy reading 200 pages of guideline documents, instead a 10 minute overview video gives me all the information I need, that is what I needed when learning WordPress, after that I explored and learnt the topic on my own.  Not being overwhelmed with a whole lot of information when learning a new thing hence finding the right method for you, is also key to not fearing to learn.

Don’t be afraid of being bad at what you learnt, fearing to learn is like being afraid of the dictionary (Lexicophobia, yes there is a word for it!, don’t believe me check the dictionary 😉 ). You may gain only superficial knowledge about the new things you learn, but that’s OK at least now you know something like that exists! You may try to impress your colleagues with your new found learning and that may have gone south, but that’s OK too, they just gave you the practice you needed, the next time you would definitely be better.

The more you learn, the less you fear, the better you get at learning.

3. Stop making excuses

Most of us see learning as a means to an end. Some of the quotes are ‘ oh, I have learnt enough for 20 years!’, ‘my learning ended with my graduation, now its time for me to relax’, ‘there is no point in learning this’. Well, those who say that are also learning new things at their work, at home … but just not doing so proactively. What you must do is learn for learning’s sake.

Many times you may not be able to apply what you learn immediately at your work. Personally, I haven’t applied half the things I have learnt in my work, but learning so much has changed the way I think in any given situation. Example when faced with a issue at work, I don’t sulk at not knowing what to do, but I instead think that there has to be a solution and get excited that I can easily learn how to fix it!. And many a times, I am able to come up with innovative solutions by applying one of the skills I had learnt. Remember knowledge is wealth.

If you still making excuses then watch this ‘pep-talk’ by Larry Smith

Once you start enjoying the the process of learning and the skills/knowledge you gain from it, you will never stop. And as I always say

Learning is forever

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