The following is a statement about Learning as a corporate value and how it applies to our company and our work. Our business is about using resources to their fullest. Our most important resource is our minds.
Learning is taking in information and knowledge or acquiring a skill, understanding it, and being able to apply it correctly. Ideally, one should be able to extend beyond this and be able to teach it to another person.
Some think it’s okay to never take the thing learned out of the intangible and abstract, the theoretical, the academic, and actually create something with that knowledge, to truly apply it. There was plenty of that in architecture school, the professors who had never had anything of their design built, or even built something themselves. Their knowledge was only useful within certain boundaries. But tell them that.
The true intimacy comes when we conceive of an idea, then design it, then build it, and finally use it. Most people never go through that chain of experience. Artists do. Makers do. Some builders and architects and inventors do. But not all. Once one has sat in the seat of his own swing and fallen with a thud because the rope was too weak, now knows the price of his experiment, and the responsibility. The startup business that has gotten to revenue with real employees and customers only to close its doors because the economy dips deeply, knows too.
Even though I did not ask, a business consultant once "coached” me on how to build my startup business, but he had never done so himself in his career. He had never even created a complete theoretical business model. Yet, he knew better. One who has never ventured alone out into a wilderness cannot tell one who has what it is like. He does not know that fear and lack of knowledge of what is beyond so intimately. He has not taken that responsibility fully on his own shoulders to know its psychological weight. That would be like me telling a soldier what war is like.
Granted, I may know something about boots or rifles that I could impart to a soldier so he could do his job better, or that consultant may know much more about parts of the whole of a business than I do – and I would hope that to be the case – but, can one know the holistic nature of the whole without having experienced it?
We all start to learn. It is simply an innate necessity of life. We do not know we can choose to breathe or to learn, but whether and when we stop become later our choice.
At some point – or points – we learn how to learn. We learn skills like reading and writing and math and drawing to be able to build upon those with higher levels of learning and skills. We learn physical movements to support life and enjoy life and to create things for the enjoyment of others and ourselves: sport, sex, dance, music, exercise.
Along the way, we find out we can exercise choices about what, when, how, and whether we learn more. At almost any point in our lives, we can improve our learning. We can choose, not only to continue to learn by choice and by design, but how to learn more efficaciously.
But some folks just quit. "Oh, I had plenty of that in school, I sure don’t need more now!” Fine.
"Once you stop learning, you start dying." - Albert Einstein.
Some think they’re learning, and they are, but it is entirely according to someone else’s plan. It is your teacher, your parent, your boss doing the telling to you of what you are to be learning. That’s fine, for what it is. But recognize it for what it is: their agenda, not yours.
Many think they are learning a lot and they’ll tell you: "Wow, I started my new job and I’ve been learning so much so fast!” No doubt. That comes with any new job. In some jobs today, the pressure to learn the job is immense and intense (think Amazon manager or executive). That, for most, is learning by default. You must do so or you lose your job. At Netflix, "…people are expected to work at a super-high level or be quickly shown the door (with a generous severance package).” – Huffpost 02/27/2015.
While it may be part of your grand plan to work at such places to learn at that pace (and that is a proactive plan), and then move on with that on your resume, most people are still learning only what is thrown at them so that they can maintain their own status quo.
Is that enough for you?
What is your agenda? Do you have one? What do you want to learn? How badly do you want it? Why do you want it? What are you willing to do and to give up in order to learn it? TV? Personal time? Time with family? Sleep?
What about learning by design? What about learning to live and to thrive and to keep ahead of machine learning and IoT and artificial intelligence as an integral part of life, looking for your own deficiencies and filling in the gaps, while amplifying your best gifts? What about that?
Motivation is a key ingredient to the learning process. If you don’t care or don’t know why, it’s tough. "You cannot be motivated without a goal.” – Dr. Benjamin Hardy.
We had a wonderful dog named Gus. He was half Golder Retriever and half Basset Hound. He was truly half and half, too. He was 65 pounds of low center of gravity muscle. I thought Gus would be a natural swimmer from his retriever half, but he had a Basset’s stubbornness and zero interest in swimming.
One hot summer day, as he and I walked through an off-leash dog park along the banks of a lake, I thought, why not give Gus another chance at learning to swim? He must have sensed that. So, the only thing I could do was to catch him, pick him up and go to a two-foot embankment and throw him out into the waves. Immersion in something is one of the best ways to learn anything.
Oh! He was not happy! He pounded the surface of the water with his huge front paws and barked and snapped at the water and tossed his head side to side. Strangely, he did not go anywhere for a while but noticed that he was not sinking, and probably that it felt good on a hot day, and he began to test his dog-paddling skills. He found himself quite naturally capable.
Minutes later his entire demeanor had changed. He did not want to come out of the water! That was it. He knew how to swim, and he loved it.
Sometimes, that is what it takes to learn well and fast, an innate giftedness, a talent, and a toss in the lake.
Yes, those play into it. Your strengths, your talents, your passions, and even forces of environment all play a part. Yet, it is really up to you and only you to Now, Discover Your Strengths, as the title of the book by Marcus Buckingham and Donald Clifton implores. It is easier to learn something if we have a natural talent or a strong propensity or burning desire.
Learning begets learning. As we learn a variety of subjects, our brains have more reference material with which to draw analogies and see likenesses. Yes, we can also – as adults - learn to learn better. We can learn higher-level learning skills so that we can learn more practical material better and faster: Mnemonics. Analogies. Acronyms. Speed-reading. Repetition. Visualization.
Abraham Lincoln said: "The best way to predict your future is to create it.”
How can anyone create a future without learning new things? How do we keep up with technology and the imminent and frequent replacing of human activities with machines? How do we stay relevant? We learn!
Finally, what do we put in our way to learning? Do we tell ourselves how easy it is for children to learn, implying that for adults, it just gets harder and harder? Do we not exercise the courage it takes to fail or to look foolish? So, pride and vanity get in your way? Is it that you tell yourself you don’t have time or that you’ll do it when – insert the event here – happens? Then you don’t want it badly enough. You need to go find the reason, the cause, the goal, the dream in order to have it compel you to move forward.
What is that for you? A good way to help you to move forward is to find another person or group who are doing what you want to do. Get around them and their energy. Oh, you tried and it didn’t work out? Right. Back to the reason, the cause, the dream!
Surround yourself with like-minded individuals who are learning Photoshop, or downhill mountain biking, or human physiology, or Vietnamese, or machine-learning for the Internet of Things.
In our work at ReCapturit, we are necessarily learning about so many things as we chart new territories on the internet and within industries. It is critical that we learn fast. Yet, we are also learning outside of our work to hone skills and learn new ones. While I was reading the book, The Only Skill That Matters, by Jonathan A. Levi, he quotes Alvin Toffler, the author of Future Shock, "The illiterate of the twenty-first century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.”
It is that important. The future will shock. We can be ready. We value Learning.
Our ReCapturit® Values:
Hospitality - How we treat people
Stewardship - How we care for things
Craftsmanship - How we build things
Learning - How we keep growingIntegrity - How we live and work
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