As one of the newest members of Rosa’s Ho’ohana Online Community, I find it a real honor to not only be part of this distinguished group but Rosa has allowed us to provide a guest post this month. Before I became part of Ho’ohana, I already was a regular reader of many of those in the community and believe that these are some of the highest quality blogs out there in the vast blogosphere.
Rosa asked us to consider a topic that is very special to me, Lifelong Learning. Already there have been some excellent posts by others in the community with their own personal take on the learning process. So for this post, I am going to share my personal "learning trigger points" that moved me in the direction of learning:
Since we are talking about lifelong learning, I guess the best place to start is from birth. For the first 22 years of my life, learning wasn’t something that I felt I had any choice. I had to go to primary school. My grades needed to be good enough to stay in school and get into college. I had no choice but to go to college, it was expected of me in order to have a successful career and eventually support a family.
Therefore, I never saw learning more than that – a necessity in life. I also did the very least necessary to make it through the first half of my life. Sure, there were leanings towards certain subjects (I was very good in math), and I had choices on what career I wanted to go into (anything with computers). However, I never read books outside of those required by school. I never did extra credit. I just got by. I got decent grades but didn’t excel. And for me that was just enough.
However, when I started my career, and wasn’t "forced" to go to any more education that I had a choice. I could read books or not. I could get more training or not. I could learn additional skills or not. And thus, I achieved my first trigger point:
Trigger Point #1 – Learning isn’t what you have to do, it’s what you want to do.
Now, I started reading some things on the side on my own terms. I still wasn’t learning that often, but I realized that I needed to learn beyond what school had taught me in order to have success in my career. After a couple of years, I started to slack off. As I see with many people, I felt I had enough knowledge to do my job and there wasn’t anything else that somebody was going to teach me. It wasn’t until I applied for a job that had skills that I wasn’t qualified for and ended up getting hired for, that I achieved my next trigger point:
Trigger Point #2 – Learning is not about who you are, but the potential of who you can become.
I had become laxed in my learning, because I was only concentrating on what I currently needed and not want I could be learning in order to move further in my career. When I got this job that I wasn’t prepared for, my eyes opened up. I don’t know everything! I then spent the next several years learning as much as I can for this job while keeping an eye for other opportunities. It was during this time that I also saw much success and promotion at work. I was given better titles, more responsibility, and of course more money.
However, as I got busy with work, I started doing what I also see many poeple do. "I don’t have time to learn", "There aren’t enough hours in the day". So, I stopped looking for oppportunities instead I almost expected that the organization should throw conferences and other training opportunities in my lap and provide me much time off in order to learn. I also got resentful when I felt that my company let me down when that didn’t happen. After much waiting and realizing that I wasn’t getting over those feelings, I reached my next trigger point:
Trigger Point #3 – The best learning doesn’t always come to you, you need to go looking for it.
Even if my organization gave me the opportunities, they were too infrequent to make enough of a difference. I realized that if learning was important enough to me, I needed to make the time. I never had time for vacations, but you know that I used every vacation day and made time for it! Same could be true with training. So, I started finding hours both at work and outside of work where that time was focused only on learning. At first, it wasn’t much time at all. But, I started finding another few minutes here and there. Minutes turned into hours each week. I also realized the more important and the current trigger point in my life:
Trigger Point #4 – Once you realize the benefits and rewards of learning, you can’t get enough of it.
I am addicted to learning now. I can’t get enough. I am reading several books right now on various topics. I am finding seminars, conferences, user groups and other opportunities to connect with the community and learn – many of those things not only local but free or inexpensive. And, starting this year, I have extended my learning through blogging and subscribing to blog which has tremendously expanded my knowledge. I can’t wait until the next post, the next book, the next class in which I can learn something new and related it to what I have already learned.
I can’t wait to see what trigger points I have in the future!
Postcript by Rosa: You can always find Skip Angel, our Guest Author today, within the right-column listing of our Ho’ohana Online Community. As Skip said, the listing for his blog is a newer one for us, and I am so excited to have Random Thoughts from a CTO included in my suggestions for you. Click in to visit Skip often, for you will see that his learning has kicked in with a vengeance, and he has much to share!