Is there anything more energizing and invigorating than learning something new?! I absolutely love learning new things. And it turns out that this is actually one of the top skills leaders need: the ability to be life-long learners.
According to Forbes, among others, “In the future of work, the critical skills for success are increasingly soft skills like emotional intelligence, adaptability and resilience. Success in the future of work requires becoming a lifelong learner.” Which is great news for people who are curious, interested, and engaged in the world around us! And I’m guessing that you are one of those people – that’s why you’re reading this newsletter! 😉
Back when I was in Business School, the buzzword of the day was Synergy. It was the goal for everything.
Collaboration may be the buzzword of today, but it – like synergy – is actually something that we do genuinely want to encourage, support, and achieve. Collaborating – which really just means working well together as a team – means the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
There are a lot of positives to come out of creating collaborative teams (as this article on the 10 Reasons why Collaboration is Important in the Workplace points out), but unfortunately, the main drawback is that we’ve been so focused on those positives that we’ve created Collaboration Overload!!
To that end, I have started an accountability group with a few friends. I know I want to develop and prioritize healthy habits, like drinking enough water and getting regular movement during the work day, and having a few trusted friends on the journey with me makes it a lot more fun, as well as a lot more likely to happen!
Being a life-long learner, and someone who is curious to learn new things, doesn’t mean you necessarily have to learn something specific. It’s the curiosity itself that is the game changer. And as James Clear points out, the key here is really to find out what it is you are interested in:
“The first step – perhaps the most enormous step – is to find what you are genuinely interested in. If you are genuinely interested, you will discover endless opportunities for improvement. But if you are disinterested, even obvious improvements will feel like a chore. And if you can maintain your genuine interest and curiosity as the years accumulate, you will become hard to compete with because you will have skill to go with your passion. If you’re interested, you’re dangerous.” What a cool perspective! Being interested and skilled is a dynamite combination!!
The reason learning is such a fundamental skill is that it increases the brain’s neuroplasticity. Basically, by learning, you are keeping your brain fresh and mobile – able to serve you for longer. As we age, the brain’s neuroplasticity decreases. The learning of childhood creates new pathways in the brain, but as we get older, we need to create fewer new pathways because what we need is already there. If we continue to use the learning and knowledge we already have, but are not learning new things, we literally get in a (brain) rut! Learning new things, at any age, is like taking your brain to the gym: you are working the muscle in new ways and building new strength and neuro-resilience.
“Neuroplasticity is the ability of the brain to reorganise and adapt its structure and function in response to new experiences and learnings. This means that, even as we age, our brains have the ability to create new neural connections and pathways. This allows us to continue learning new skills and acquiring knowledge.” [Source]
It’s a virtuous circle! Learning helps your neuroplasticity, and having good neuroplasticity enables you to learn! Win-win!
WHY LEARNING MAKES SENSE…
In case we need any further encouragement or proof of why learning something new is beneficial, there are even more reasons! As we become more experienced in our fields, it can be easy to become complacent, and to rest on your existing expertise. But the benefits of continued learning are significant.
Some of the top arguments for learning:
1. Develop brain resources for long-lasting brain health and unexpected uses
2. Self-discovery, happiness, and boredom are taken care of
3. Skills transfer to other areas with unexpected benefits
4. You’ll have social and emotional advantages
5. You’ll develop a richer identity and reduce the chances of an identity crisis
6. Others will find more use for your offerings
7. Your professional fallback options and job security will increase
8. You’ll get a sense of achievement and reward when other areas don’t give it
9. You’ll get a way to make procrastination itself productive
PHYSICAL ACTIVITY HELPS TOO…
If you want to really double up on your neuroplasticity, it turns out that doing physical activity helps your brain and doing physical activity before or after learning can facilitate the learning as well! Great 2-for-1 deal!! 😊
Exercise has “an immediate, positive benefit for your brain including your mood and focus. […] and protects your brain from different conditions like depression, Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.” [Source]
And studies have shown that exercise can help you learn a new language as well! Maybe speaking German with my triathlon friends while training was more effective than I realized!
Clearly being a life-long learner is a huge plus in our fast-paced and continually changing world. It benefits us, and we benefit from it!
WHAT I’M READING…
Is there anything nicer than cuddling up on a rainy day with a good book?! Bliss. Even better when that book reunites you with old friends, and makes you laugh out loud!
That was the case with The Last Devil to Die, the latest installment of the Thursday Murder Club series. We are reunited with the gang: Elizabeth, Joyce, Rob & Ibrahim, and this time the murder happens almost on page 1. An old friend of the gang is murdered and naturally they jump into action to solve the case. The dialogue between the characters is so funny, I just couldn’t help but laugh out loud while reading it! Clever, witty, amusing, and so realistic, the book just flew by! I read it while away over the weekend with friends, and afterwards my friend said she was clearly going to have to read this book since it was obviously so funny!! Light-hearted and sweet, it’s the perfect rainy day cheer-up!
WHAT I’M LISTENING TO…
If you haven’t listened to Robert Glenister reading Robert Galbraith’s Cormoran Strike series, RUN don’t walk to your audiobook app and download the next book ASAP!!! Honestly, this series and this narrator are listening perfection. They are to audiobooks what Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony is to classical music. I am completely head over heels for this series and this narrator!!
The Running Grave is the seventh book in the Cormoran Strike series, and to my mind, the best. The character development is magnificent. I was so engrossed in the developing relationship of Strike and Robin, and I listened to the epilogue at least 5 times because I was so invested in what happened. And that was after listening to the entire 34-hour audiobook twice in a row!!
As ever, the Strike & Ellacott detective agency is investigating something nefarious. It is dark, and the story is the antithesis of superficial. The agency is looking into trying to liberate the adult son of their client from the cult he has been in for 4 years – the United Humanitarian Church. Robin ends up going undercover into the church and experiencing the cult first-hand. The story isn’t for the faint of heart but despite the often bleak and disturbing storyline (somewhat par for the course in this series), the plot is gripping, the characters are incredibly 3-dimensional, and it is anything but predictable.
And then there is the narration. There just aren’t enough laudatory adjectives for Glenister’s nuanced, multi-accented, and brilliant narration. Definitely do your ears a favour and listen to this book!!
What are you going to learn next? I’ve signed up for Spanish lessons starting next month! I’ve always wanted to learn Spanish and have finally taken the plunge. What have you always wanted to learn that you could dive into? I hope your curiosity sustains and propels you!! Have a wonderful weekend.
Be emotional. Stay healthy.