Someone ‘burning’ the pavement. Taken in a small plaza just outside the Louvre, Paris.

What is learning?

I’d argue what people normally refer to as ‘learning’ is nothing more than acquisition. Acquisition of books, courses, videos, pdf’s to start. From there, the acquisition of knowledge, facts, ideas, concepts, etc.

But true learning is doing. It’s skill development, resulting in a more personal knowledge. A deeper knowing. Then the beautiful difference maker: a change in behavior.

In fact, when you see a behavior change in someone (negative or positive), you know real learning took place. Everything else is accumulation. Acquisition is smoke. Learning is fire. Most learning institutions have confused smoke with fire. This is slowly changing for the better, but we have a ways to go.

Still. People will talk about how a lecture “transformed my life.” Reading a book “changed everything.” Maybe it did. Most likely it didn’t.

I’ve been guilty of this, too. It’s safer. There’s a place where books or other writings take us that can never, ever be experienced in real life. But who do you think ‘learned’ more from the book? The writer? Or the reader? Intuitively, you know the deal.

Real life takes guts. It takes vulnerability. It takes heart. It’s takes not knowing wtf is going to happen next. And that space is where true learning takes place.