No one likes a “know-it-all”.

In an increasingly ever-changing corporate world, how can you ‘know it all’?

Yesterday’s news is today’s fish and chips paper and yet some people continue to apply old practices to new corporate situations.

The question really is how do we stay ahead of the ever-growing curve of latest trends and data?

The answer is simple: Education.

Now, the initial connotations of “learning” or “education” would include a textbook, a chalkboard and, depending on your age, maybe the occasional strike with a cane from the teacher to ensure your undivided attention and compliance.

However, in the corporate world, learning can present itself in many forms and only a real leader can show the honesty, humility and hard work required to absorb the magnitude of information that will present itself on a daily basis.

We must make a conscious effort to consume and embrace new knowledge at every opportunity that may present itself.

John F. Kennedy famously said that “Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other”. A real leader can find learning outcomes in successes and failures, which requires the humility to identify such moments, consume them, refine them and reapply these new learnings:

  • The honesty to identify your own weaknesses and work on them.
  • The humility to not only show this vulnerability but be open and willing to learn from others – senior, equal and junior to you.
  • The hard work to consume, master, apply and re-teach your newfound skills and knowledge creates the perfect formula for growth personally and professionally.

Where to Start?

If you are fortunate enough to be in a position to have the time and money to invest in your professional & personal development, then I implore you to do so. However, God gave us two ears, two eyes and only one mouth for a reason; we are designed to consume more information than we create and to not do so is a disservice to your ambitions.

There are some mindset adjustments you can make to increase your learning capacity in your daily corporate life, such as:

  • Keep a Diary– whether a formal note pad or a simple journal that you can keep in a word document. Journaling can help you reflect on moments of success and failure as they are happening and will force you to seek out learning outcomes to improve in the future. This is also a good practice when you are looking to update your CV and articulate your growth as a professional.
  • Ask more questions– to all levels of personnel in your organization, your peer group or other third parties, continue to ask questions. Albert Einstein put it best “I have no special talent; I am only passionately curious”. Curiosity may have killed the cat but it will only grow your IQ.
  • Embrace failures and shortcomings– don’t shy away from things that you are not good at and don’t try and blab your way through conversations that you are not educated in. There is no harm in not knowing and humans have a sixth sense for bullsh*t. Embrace your own humility and seek solutions and improvements to your skill gaps.
  • Give it a go– Apply your newly crafted skills. Start small by verbally regurgitating and hearing different responses to your new knowledge or take the next step of practically applying it. It won’t be perfect but over time you will refine and hone your new crafts and skill sets.
  • Teach“If you really want to master something, teach it”. Once you have become proficient in your new skill then the next step in mastery is to pay it forward and re-teach your peers, partners and colleagues. Only when you can take an elaborate topic, make it accessible and allow others to apply it in their lives, can you consider yourself a master.

Open your eyes, ears and minds to the learnings that surround you

The corporate world is changing faster than textbooks can be drafted and printed. The world in general is unrecognizable to itself with every passing year.

Those who rest on their laurels, stop learning and adapting will soon be left behind. We must make a conscious effort to consume and embrace new knowledge at every opportunity that may present itself.

Your potential to stay ahead of your competitors and succeed in your business will only be limited by your ability to consume, digest, re-apply, refine and re-teach all the effective skills and crafts that you encounter daily. That is the true definition of learning and a business superpower for those who can master it.

A final mention for our friend Albert Einstein who also once morbidly said, “Once you stop learning, you start dying”.

I say for those reading this, that life has just begun and my hope for you is that you open your eyes, ears and minds to the learnings that surround you.

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