How to Create a Commitment to Lifelong Learning

Have you seen Florence Foster Jenkins?

(I’ve had A LOT of time to watch movies and read books in the past two weeks, what with the plague and all.)

It’s a really fun movie and I highly recommend it. Meryl Streep is GREAT in it.

While she is interviewing for a pianist, she has tea with one of the candidates.

She talks about the importance of lifelong learning. Not just once-in-a-while learning, but the kind that you incorporate into your daily lives.

As they sat and discussed what the other does to encourage lifelong learning, I thought, “Ah ha! This is important.”

And then, serendipitously, I happened upon an article in Inc. about what Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, and Oprah all have in common.

You guessed it!

Lifelong learning.

Three Things Exceptional Entrepreneurs Do

The article focuses on what exceptional leaders and entrepreneurs do with five hours in their weeks.

It is narrowed down to three areas:

  1. Read;
  2. Reflect; and
  3. Experiment.

All three go to lifelong learning.

Read

The plague notwithstanding, I read about a book a week.

Not to mention the various blog posts, articles, news media (especially right now), podcasts, and videos that consume so much of our days.

The article’s author found that most “billionaire entrepreneurs” had this very thing in common.

Oprah, of course, shared her love of reading with the world through her book club.

Mark Cuban has been noted to read about three hours a day.

My very first boss read at least an hour every day, which I know because I sat next to the men’s restroom and watched him go in there every day with a stack of newspapers.

(That still makes me giggle like I’m a 14-year-old boy.)

The point is, you cannot be committed to lifelong learning if you don’t read.

Reflect

The article says:

AOL CEO Tim Armstrong makes his senior team spend four hours per week just thinking.

That makes me laugh.

You can’t force people to just think, but there is a very valid point to creating time to be one with your world.

That’s why I love cycling so much. I get out there on the road and the only thing I have to think about is how fast I’m going (so I can beat the boys) and a challenge I’m facing at work.

By the time my ride is complete, I’ve figured out a solution or two.

You know how you have the best ideas in the shower? It’s because it’s about the only place you have to just think without a single distraction.

Even if you set aside just 30 minutes a day and go for a walk around the block, you’ll foster reflection time, which leads to a commitment to lifelong learning.

Experiment

How do you know if something works (or not) if you don’t experiment?

One of the values we have here is to test things out on ourselves before we introduce them to our clients — and to you.

That’s how this blog came about. In 2006, we heard rumblings of this blogging thing and decided to check it out, mostly to see if it was a tactic we could sell to clients.

As we limped along, we learned a ton about what not to do (and that, by-the-way, makes great blog content), and we figured things out.

We experimented. We failed. A lot. And then it started to click.

That is the philosophy we have with everything. Right now, we’re trying to figure out this artificial intelligence thing and how it affects what we do every day.

As we make mistakes and learn how to do things, we’ll share that information with you. The experimentation stage is to bring you something of value.

What do you do every day that allows you to experiment and take some risk?

This will allow you to create a commitment to lifelong learning.

Create a Commitment to Lifelong Learning

I’ve often said exercise is like brushing your teeth — you just can’t start your day without it.

I really believe that, and it’s the same for lifelong learning.

You can, of course, start your day without it, but the only way to move beyond the cliche and actually LEARN something every day is to actually do it.

Just as we have a recommended number of steps every day (10,000) and minutes of exercise (30) and servings of fruits and veggies (5–9), we have think about lifelong learning in the same way.

Otherwise, it becomes another need-to-do, but never actually happens.

So think about how you can incorporate reading, reflecting, or experimenting every, single day.

If you can do that for one hour each day, you’ll rival some of the most successful people on this earth.

Originally published on Spin Sucks.

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