Leadership & Management

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Leaders - The Lifetime Learners

Written By Greg H


Many people hold the mistaken belief that their education ends the moment they graduate from university or college. In truth, their education is just beginning.

Lifelong learning is a trait found in most (if not all) successful people, especially leaders. Leaders are constantly seeking to improve themselves and grasp new ideas. Never satisfied with where they are, they are always striving for more.

Here are five characteristics of leaders who are committed to lifelong learning.

1. Lifelong learners are readers.

Most leaders are readers. As a popular axiom states, if you're not reading, you're not leading. Lifelong learners will consistently read new material, balancing it between such categories as professional development, self-improvement, bestsellers, classic literature, history, and general knowledge.

2. Lifelong learners attend growth-oriented events.

Leaders make it a priority to regularly participate in conferences where they can learn new ideas and strategies. They realise that change is unavoidable and that there is always more to learn. At least once a year, they attend a conference, either specific to their industry or more general such as the leadership summits. But they don't just attend; they actively participate and take notes with the goal of growing beyond where they are at the start.

3. Lifelong learners record their insights.

Several studies have demonstrated how we learn a little when we hear something, more when we hear it and see it, and most when we hear it, see it, and write it down. Whether a lifelong learner is gleaning something from a book or from experience, the best way to internalise it is to write it down.

4. Lifelong learners learn from others.

Pride can convince some that they cannot learn from those around them, but lifelong learners are always willing to absorb lessons from others. They will even be willing to learn from those in subordinate positions and with less education or experience. They refuse to allow pride to get in the way of a learning opportunity.

5. Lifelong learners grow through failure.

Failure is perhaps the best teacher (or at least the most effective teacher) of lifelong learners. Those who learn and grow through failure often find themselves positioned for future success. Steve Jobs learned from the struggles faced by Apple during the 1990s and went on to turn the company into a powerhouse in the computer industry. Donald Trump emerged from bankruptcy to become one of the most powerful figures in real estate. Abraham Lincoln used the lessons from his political failures to turn him into the greatest president in American history. Failure is never preferred, but it can be a great teacher.

The trait of being a lifelong learner cannot be overestimated. Those who are not learning are declining. Leaders' intent on moving forward and achieving future success will be devoted to lifelong learning.

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