There is a fantastic resource on the internet called the VIA Character Strengths and Virtues (www.viacharacter.org). This site offers a free psychometrically validated personality test that measures character strengths. I have done this assessment four times in the last 8 years and my number one strength is always “Love of Learning”.
Sometimes I feel like the world is full of wisdom that I can catch a glimpse of, but not fully comprehend. Learning is my avenue to try to understand and assimilate that knowledge with the outcome of improving my life and those around me. Luckily these days, learning is democratized. There is so much free and low cost learning available online. Nobody can use the excuse of a lack of money to further their personal growth.
I have team members who are equally obsessed with learning – Eone, Amanda, and Vanesa take a bow! These women train, create virtual content, and develop e-learning with passion and commitment. Eone has had me dress up as a pilot, with the rest of the team as air hostesses, to present an overview of our training academy at a serious industry conference because this she felt this would communicate our message best. We sucked up our pride and took a risk, and had a lot of fun. We may not have been the best speakers but we certainly were memorable….
Learning is something that most organisations take very seriously. This is supported by our government’s commitment to provide educational opportunities to employees via legislation or financial incentive. It is a win-win situation. Our organisations want us to learn and we get to improve our knowledge and skills on company time.
But how often do we find ourselves on a training course where we are dis-engaged?
As a part-time workplace trainer myself, I see you guys! You sit at the back of the class with a vacant gaze, eyes and hands constantly tethered to the cellphone. Expressionless. The energy you give off is stale or restless.
And then there are the learners who are engaged. It may not be a course they wanted to attend or that they even need to further their career, but they have chosen to participate. Their energy levels are high because they are taking the opportunity to learn or to share what they know for the good of others. They see themselves as contributors. As the trainer, I rely on them to add their insights to my material, and their passion to lift up the mood of the group. We dance together.
In fact, many internal trainers in The Beehive come from people who attended a course first and decided that they were brave enough to train others. As part-time trainers, they discover a part of themselves which was not given voice through their current jobs. It is a joy to be in a classroom with them.
With online learning, which is mostly the only option we have these (pandemic) days, we do not have the physical energy of the trainer to draw upon. We mostly have a voice and sometimes a face, some visual materials, videos, and discussion. We try to communicate through the heavens / atmosphere / ether / cloud which is often broken up with shaky connections. But real learning can still happen if one is motivated and open for growth.
We must study that which fascinates us. Not learning means not growing, and, even, growing ever more irrelevant. There is a lot of talk about becoming agile, and the rise of agile organisations. This boils down to quickly unlearning old things and quickly learning new things. The key here is your love of learning. If you don’t have it, work on developing it. Your income may depend on it.
Self-coaching tips for developing your love of learning:
This week take the time to find out what learning is available to you as an employee. If allowed, it could be non-job related. Read the description of the course and start to visualize how you could use the knowledge and skills to make your life better. And when the time comes for the training, put your best attitude on. Look for the gems in the material. Connect with the trainer and the other learners. Squeeze all the juice out of this opportunity.
If your workplace learning doesn’t excite you, try some of the free courses out there. My favourites are offered by EdX and Coursera. Linked-in Learning is also valuable.
Read a book on a topic which fascinates you. If you are strapped for cash, try the Libby app, which is a virtual library which allows you to “borrow” books for a certain period of time.
If you are a multi-tasker, get Audible and listen to one of the Great Courses while you clean the kitchen or drive to work.