As the nature of work continues to evolve career paths are becoming more dynamic and less predictable. Lifelong learning is now essential for individuals and organizations to stay competitive. At InteraWorks, we believe in lifelong learning and find great joy in sharing this passion with our team – members and with our learners.
What is lifelong learning?
At a practical level, lifelong learning is the act of continuous learning throughout one’s entire life, especially outside of or after completing formal schooling.Lifelong learning is not only an action but also a state of mind. Because of this, it differs from continuing education, which is simply formalized learning that builds upon knowledge in a certain field or subject. Lifelong learning is a voluntary and self-motivated pursuit of knowledge – which never stops. It may encompass both the personal and professional areas in your life – often concurrently.
Here are some of the types of lifelong learning initiatives:
- Developing a new skill
(e.g. cooking, programming, public speaking)
- Self-taught study
(e.g. learning a new language, researching a topic of interest, subscribing to a podcast)
- Learning a new sport or activity
(e.g. learning to ski, learning to exercise, enrolling in a yoga program)
- Learning to use a new technology
(e.g. smart devices, new software applications)
- Acquiring new knowledge
(e.g. taking a self-interest course via online education or classroom-based course)
Lifelong learning for Organizational Leadership
Lifelong learning is certainly important for an individual’s employability; however, it is also critical for personal growth and professional development and is a key component of successful leadership in the corporate world.
“Intellectual capital will always trump financial capital.”
– Self-made billionaire, Paul Tudor Jones
Many people, influenced by traditional collegiate learning, tend to view education as an upfront investment with passive benefits for years to come. The outlook of a lifelong learner presents a contracting perspective in which education should be a continual process that never truly ends.
It should be no surprise that the most effective leaders today are open to learning in non-traditional ways. Highly effective leaders are coachable – willing and able to “unlearn” concepts that are no longer working and “relearn” things that will help them to be better managers, trainers, strategists, and motivators. Instead of saying “I know”, they instead say, “I want to know” and are open to innovative ideas that would have never gained traction otherwise.
The importance of lifelong learning
Here are a few key reasons a lifelong learning mindset has a positive impact on the lives and careers of both current and future leaders:
- Opens the Mind
Allows for a free exchange of ideas and viewpoints among learners bringing us to a new level of enlightenment.
- Increased Wisdom
Enables us to put our lives in perspective and increases our understanding of ourselves and previous successes and failures.
- Adaptability to Change
Supports us in keeping up with society’s changes and adapting to the changing job market more easily than those who place limits on their learning potential.
- Greater Empathy
Forge strong relationships with their team members, understand and acknowledge different perspectives, and motivate employees to give their best. Since lifelong learning often involves deliberately seeking out ideas that are different from our own, it allows for the development of empathy and emotional intelligence.
- Improved Happiness
Pursue passions and interests outside of work by motivating leaders to focus some of their time and energy on hobbies and other activities – increasing contentment in both their personal and professional lives.
Next Step: A Personal Leadership Development Plan
The ideas behind lifelong learning and personal leadership development align well with one another and it’s often impossible to pursue one without the other.
Taking a moment to reflect on your goals and gaps will drive your leadership development plan development with focus and clarity. The more you understand what you want to get out of your lifelong learning practice, the more likely you are to stick with it.
If you are looking for ways to grow personally and professionally, here are some elements that you should consider including in your personal plan:
- What major gaps have stalled my performance as a leader?
(e.g. With new challenges arising from remote working, it has become challenging to foster a positive atmosphere with my team.)
- What is my personal leadership development goal for the next year?
(e.g. Over the next few months, I want to focus on developing my communication skills with my team)
- Why do I want to expand/strengthen my level of knowledge?
- What are my ultimate career goals?
(both short-term and long-term)
“The doors of wisdom are never shut.”
– Benjamin Franklin
A prosperous life requires continuous inquiry, creation, and discovery. There’s always something to learn. Whether you’re picking up a hobby or starting a new career, you’ll need to acquire fresh knowledge and skills. And you should be eager to embrace the challenge.
Author – Stacy Cross, Learning + Programs Lead
InteraWorks is a global learning company on a mission to elevate the human experience at work. Specializing in professional development and performance enablement, we offer top-rated learning programs based on four defined conditions that must exist for individuals, teams including Effective Edge, Best Year Yet, and the Essentials series. Our integrated learning framework and online tools generate immediate and sustainable breakthroughs in performance. Through decades of working at all levels in enterprise companies across many industries, we’ve built a reputation for helping people and organizations harness their focus, mindset, talent and energy to produce results that matter most.
We’ve defined four conditions that must exist for an individual, team or organization to be effective within the arena of performance and development; Accountability, Focus, Alignment, and Integrity. We’ll continue to explore these and more in our blog and look forward to your engagement and interaction with us. Stay tuned as we engage the edges.