Webster’s defines learning as “To gain knowledge comprehension or mastery through experience or study.”
I have a question that I would like you to consider. The answer has to be very honest. How many books have you read in the last month? The last three months? The last year? To show you that I practice what I preach – I can tell you that I read four books per month, twelve books a quarter and about 48 to 50 books a year. It may not seem like much but in a twenty-year period that is over 800 books! Here is the point- some of that knowledge has to sink into my brain.
Unfortunately, many people in our society once they have graduated from high school or college just quit learning. They say to themselves “no more homework” and “I never have to read another book again!” They are done. Interestingly, commencement doesn’t mean “finished” it means “to start.” At some point these people get stagnant and eventually may lose motivation. Why? They aren’t staying fresh and giving the brain of theirs the old workout.
What is a Learner?
What is a learner? To me a learner is someone who has an incredible thirst for knowledge. I think that learners can be identified by the following activities and characteristics:
They read books As a continuous learner, you must read constantly. I have a rule that I have made for myself. During the year I only read books which are non-fiction, mainly “how to” books and books on motivation and success. When I am on vacation or during time off and holidays, I read fictional novels and enjoy the “mind candy” they provide. As a suggestion, you may want to set up a plan for your reading. Decide on how many books you are going to read every month and mark them in your planner. At the end of each month take out the planner (or P.D.A.) and check your progress. Part of your plan should also be to decide on a reading strategy. Decide what areas you need to improve in and then create a list of books that could possibly help in those areas. If you don’t know of any books on that topic, go to Amazon.com and do a search, or search the computer at your local library by topic.
They ask others Ask other people that you know and respect about what books they are reading or have read that have had an impact on them. Write down their suggestion and head to your nearest local bookstore.
We have determined that learners read, but there are other activities that learners embrace on a regular basis:
They Search the Net You can use the Internet as a source of information and research. By using many of the search engines and meta-search engines, you can locate tons of valuable information on the net. The Net is an amazing mix of websites, research, magazine articles, and commercial services that you can subscribe to for a fee. The only frustration that I have found with the Net, is knowing exactly where to find the information. Because of the overwhelming amount of information, it makes sense to learn how to search the web as efficiently as possible. There are many great books on the market, which teach you Internet search strategies. For example the way a topic is entered on a search engine can change the results. The topic with quotation marks around it can change the results from the search, with no quotation marks. The rules are different with each search engine. Crazy isn’t it?
They Ask Questions I want you to think of A.S.K. Ask So you will Know. When a subject comes up and you don’t understand something, ask! I have worked with many people in the world who will not ask a question and will pretend that they know. The only way that you can get smarter is by seeking out information, which you do not understand. Seek out S.M.E.’s (subject matter experts) and tap into their expertise. My uncle, Scott Camp is the consummate “asker.” He is always asking questions. We don’t see each other often, but when we do he wants to know what is going on in my life and work. When I tell him about my work and life, he then asks tons of questions. He is a human sponge who soaks up information at a rapid rate, and he is very smart. Why? Because he is a non-stop continuous learning machine. He understands that the more questions he asks, the more he will learn.
So start learning today.