Learning to learn

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I recently turned 40 and am realizing a startling revelation…

I need to learn how to learn.

Sounds absurd…maybe? But hear me out.

As a new dad, I was recently reflecting on my childhood…

And my experiences of the different phases of learning.

As a young kid, you’re a sponge. You are observing everything. You are trying everything. You make mistakes. You adjust. You’re not in a rush. There is no concern about what people think. You aren’t weighed down by the outcome, it’s just the PROCESS.

And it’s no surprise, we learn at an exceptional rate. And it’s fun. Exciting even!

Flash forward for me to high school and college. By this time, learning and its pursuit has evolved.

Learning is a means to an end. I need to get the grade to get the degree to get to the next level…to eventually get the job and be “SUCCESSFUL”.

How nebulous, right?

So at that moment, the outcome was the most important thing. Getting the grade or achieving the result was the pursuit…regardless of whether I was learning the material.

That looked like last minute cramming. Trying to figure out what would be on a test. Memorizing information. Not reading the books, but opting for the cliff notes to accelerate the assimilation of required information.

Does that sound similar to anyone out there?

Is it any surprise that I no longer know any of that information. Because it was never learned. What a misuse of time and energy in retrospect.

So, let’s circle back to the present.

Now at 40, there are lots of things I want to learn. And I want to be an example of the pursuit of learning to my kids.

So I am reexamining HOW WE LEARN.

And I am looking at my kids and my own youth for a framework that can help me model behaviors conducive for learning now.

It can be boiled down to this, my objective is growth…not performance.

It’s not about conquering Jiu Jitsu and getting a black belt. That will be a nice reward if it comes…

But it’s about the journey. Focusing on the process. Showing up everyday. Not worrying if I look like an idiot and get choked out by a girl half my size.

But do the work each day. Have fun with it. Look for feedback and correct the things that are holding me back. If you need to step away from it for some time do that. If there are other things in your life that you can use to help learn, use those experiences and models.

Make mistakes. Laugh at them. Because the outcome doesn’t matter.

What truly matters is learning and realizing no matter how old we get, we can learn anything.

If you think you can’t…

You just need to ask questions about HOW can you learn. What behaviors and techniques ladder up to help you learn the information.

Be open to feedback and enjoy the ride.

 

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