Lifelong Learning — Your Future Depends Upon It
Read this if you want to remain relevant and employable.
“A lifelong learning framework encompasses learning throughout the life cycle, from cradle to grave and in different learning environments, formal, non-formal and informal.” — Gary Ryan Blair
The world is changing rapidly, and the stakes are higher than ever.
We’re facing full-fledged revolutions on multiple fronts…and there’s no end in sight.
Nothing is sacred…all rules are being rewritten. No country or currency…no industry or profession…and certainly no company or individual is safe.
We’re all vulnerable, we’re all in the cross hairs…and no one has your back.
Hyper-competitiveness, relentless and ongoing challenges, disruptive technologies, blockchain, artificial intelligence, robotics and mass consolidation is occurring at warp speed…and it’s only going to accelerate.
So what can you do stay in the game and remain competitive in the age exponential technologies?
The answer is simpler than you might think…Stay a Student!
“The mind is an extremely large place in a very small space…” Carl Sagan
Stick around and I’ll explain why staying a student for life is the smartest move you can make.
Growth, self-development and the ongoing quest for mastery ends only when you run out of time. You are, and will always be, a self in evolution.
Learning ability, intellectual capital, knowledge and technical know-how are all intangibles.
But these intangibles are among your most important assets, as everything you do to reinvent and update your knowledge allows you stay in the game and competitively perform.
People work more with knowledge today than with skill. Knowledge and skill have many similar characteristics, however it’s the dissimilar characteristic that we must focus on.
The truth is…a person’s skill set changes very slowly over a long period of time, but knowledge empowers its own change.
Knowledge or what some call intellectual capital is unique in that it’s designed to cannibalize itself.
In a very short period of time…knowledge makes itself obsolete, a relic and example of yesterday’s strength being today’s liability.
Lifelong learning rests upon the twin principles of personal development and social service.
The social, economic development and ultimate survival of a country, a company, and a community is increasingly dependent upon the knowledge and skills of its citizens in the global knowledge economy.
Those who have the lowest levels of skill and the weakest capacity for constant updating will find themselves unable to compete and most likely unemployed.
Therefore, it’s imperative that everyone commit to becoming a student for life, as the knowledge we currently posses is not sufficient for capitalizing on future opportunities.
Learning continually throughout life is vital if we are to make informed choices about our lives and the societies in which we live.
Something new is always occurring as significant shifts in industries, technologies, and policies require interrogation and deeper understanding. This is only possible through a commitment to lifelong learning.
It would be foolish to ignore the call for lifelong learning as we discover more, and not less, need of new knowledge as we make progress.
Lifelong learning…staying a student rightly interpreted, can have no endings and is as inseparable from normal living as food and physical exercise.
It must be supported and encouraged throughout the course of life as a fundamental discipline that is always enforced.
Lifelong learning must not be regarded as a luxury for a few exceptional persons here and there, nor as a thing which concerns only a short span of ones early formative years, but that ongoing learning is a permanent national necessity, an inseparable aspect of citizenship, and therefore should be both universal and lifelong.
A commitment to lifelong learning is more than just education and training beyond formal schooling. A lifelong learning framework encompasses learning throughout the life cycle, from cradle to grave and in different learning environments, formal, non-formal and informal.
Both individually and organizationally, the case for lifelong learning with knowledge creation as its primary goal is of fundamental importance.
Propelled by the competitive imperatives of speed, global responsiveness, disruptive technologies and the need to innovate constantly or perish, learning will be the essential hedge against extinction.
Knowledge and skills are perishable — both because they’re not applied all the time and because they can become outdated.
In order for your life to be vivid, strong, and creative, it demands constant reflection upon experience and a healthy appetite for new knowledge.
A failure to accept this reality and attend to the rigors of ongoing learning spells disaster.
The only true certainty is uncertainty, and the only sure source of true, lasting competitive advantage is knowledge. The ability to learn faster than your competitors may indeed be the only sustainable competitive advantage.
When markets shift, technologies proliferate, competitors multiply and products become obsolete virtually overnight, successful companies are those that consistently create new knowledge, disseminate it widely throughout the organization and quickly embody it in new technologies and products.
In short, on going success will come from on going learning!
For learning to be effective, we all need to be good and serious about knowledge generation, appropriation and exploitation.
Old cultural and psychological habits and paradigms die extremely hard…and challenging obsolete assumptions can expose critical discrepancies between external reality and internal mental models.
It is these gaps that provide much of the creative tension and dynamic energy that drives every learning initiative.
The Hallmarks And Prerequisites Of Lifelong Learning
This list is ambitious and perhaps not even fully attainable. Lifelong learning is a journey with no end in sight, but the conscious pursuit of learning, just like excellence is what really counts.
· Intellectual Curiosity
A passion to understand the changing forces swirling around you, an eagerness to learn them faster, and a recognition that learning is an unending journey.
A pervasive acknowledgement that no one can have all the answers. You must have a willingness to learn from others.
“Do you know the secret of the true scholar? In every man there is something wherein I may learn of him; and in that I am his pupil.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson
A logical extension of humility. A constant questioning of conventional wisdom and a keen awareness that success invariably sows the seeds of failure.
· Tolerance for Ambiguity, Complexity, and Change
An acceptance of the fact that change is an inherent reality. Thrive on change; don’t allow yourself to be intimidated by its rough and unpolished exterior.
A willingness to try out new approaches, to monitor the results, and to incorporate the feedback into new initiatives.
· Hunger for Feedback
A genuine eagerness to reach out and get performance feedback from a variety of sources, and a willingness to listen to it and make changes.
A view of experiments as desirable, mistakes as inevitable, and failures as offering the raw material of success. Learning is more a product of failure than of success.
· Creative Self-Destruction
No advantage lasts forever. That’s why you must render yourself obsolete before others do it for you. It’s the price world-class innovators and competitors gladly pay for staying ahead of the pack.
Lifelong learning provides the opportunities for you to continually expand your capacity to create the new results you truly desire.
Perhaps the most important thing you can do for yourself and your future is to know your strengths and focus on them.
To know your strengths and natural talents, to know how to improve them, and to know what you cannot or should not even attempt to do — these are the keys to lifelong learning.
Staying a student for life is the most strategically compelling task to which everyone should dedicate themselves.
While it’s an asset that will not be reflected in any balance sheet or profit-and-loss statement, by making it count it automatically becomes competitive collateral that you can use to compete in the age of artificial intelligence and win.
Gary Ryan Blair is creator of the 100 Day Challenge…a radical approach to goal achievement that shows people how to achieve 10X size goals by applying the methods and best practices of growth hacking. Get all the details here.
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