Learning and the richness of life

If I take a look to what has been a common trait in my life I would have to accept that a good part of it has been marked by the desire to know or to say it better, for the desire to know more. In my professional experience I have wondered if this was a peculiarity of mine or the drive to know more is present in all persons. If this was the case learning should be a key to opening new doors both at work and in our lives.

In order to assess the importance of learning we should take a look at the first stages of the human development. Humans are very underdeveloped creatures; we are born in a situation in which we need the care and the help of others, particularly our mothers. We become persons not only by the acquisition of food and liquids, we mature as persons in the context of a net of relationships, a warp of affects, demands and responses.

In this maturing process, there comes a moment in the evolution of a toddler, when the child starts to gain upright locomotion and he or she can look at things as to a world available to her. The paediatrician Margaret Mahler called this very special moment in our lives “the beginning of a love affair with the world”.

From this very moment on, we are “condemned” to be fascinated by the world, to discover its secrets and to be surprised by its revelations. This I think proves that learning is a drive common to all people, a trend that makes us possible the joy of living. Our love affair with the world tells us that our life is an ever changing succession of events. But what is the shape of these events and how do we face them?

The first character of these events is that they show themselves. Events are neutral we could say, but there they are, in all their richness.

As much as the world is rich it is also impossible to be grasped in its fullness. It is slippery. As Martin Heidegger wrote, the world is elusive.

Our next question is, how do we face this rich and elusive world?

In this context our life evolves and sometimes we achieve our goals and sometimes we fail. But we try to be the masters of our own lives. It is in this game of trying and watching, of becoming in love with our world and becoming disappointed by it where learning gains such an importance.

After this introductory words about the place of learning in our lives I ´d like to add a personal touch in our conversation. Now I will tell you about the practical side of learning.

How do I manage to learn while working? I ´d like to give some clues to help you start learning or just to contrast your experience with mine.

First of all, if you want to start learning, you ´ve got to begin from a point you would love to know better. That is one of the keys of any successful learning action. Never, again, never, start reading or trying something you feel indifferent about. It doesn ´t matter if you don ´t see the direct connection with your work or the tasks you usually do at work. Always start from the exciting, from the attractive. Choose something you really feel knowledge hungry about.

Second. Never, never listen to those who tell you that what you are learning is not important for the job. Or even worse, that it could be even dangerous for it.

Third. Never feel worried by intellectual barriers. I mean, there is in every realm of knowledge a kind of collective consciousness that tries to preserve the purity of the discipline. Be it economy, sociology, psychology or marketing, some people will always remind you you are a stranger in their field. You can notice how they think for themselves: what is this guy doing here? Don ´t worry, you are not an stranger for knowledge is a territory without frontiers, it is a land without borders.

Fourth. There are no borders even within any field of knowledge. Sciences, intellectual disciplines have been coined throughout history but they are not closed boxes. You can jump from one school to another, from one genius to another, from one practice to the opposite.

Fifth. Never feel embarrassed if after you have completed a learning cycle you feel like opening a new one. Learning demands repetition as it brings us pleasure, the pleasure of doing things unusually well.

My advice is that learning will bring you pleasure, will help you to master your life and will give you the possibility of meeting people of different personal and professional backgrounds. Learning adds variety and richness to life. It colours our existence.

Postcript by Rosa: Our Guest Author today is Felix Gerena, the author of the BrandSoul blog. Felix is also one of my co-authors on The blog Synergy, a new collaborative effort in blogging; that is where you will always find your link to Felix in the right column Ho‘ohana Online Community Listing.