Even before COVID-19 emerged, the concept of stable employment was already an idea of the past. We now see clearly that the pandemic has only augmented the urgency to increase reskilling efforts, either to keep pace with the transformation process now underway or to dominate the different work models that are part of our daily lives.
Increasingly we see organizations from all sectors concerned with the topic of learning. We know that culture and leaders have a critical role for employees to be motivated to learn, but we also know, from our own experience and popular wisdom, that learning is difficult.
The beginning of the continuous learning journey begins with each one of us. It is not that difficult to become strong “learners”, but we need to adopt the right mindset and make constant efforts around this topic.
First the mindset. It has a tremendous influence on our behavior, often unconsciously. To be stronger in learning we need a growth mindset and a curiosity mindset.
A growth mindset suggests that we can grow, expand, evolve and change. Intelligence and ability are not fixed points, they are characteristics that we cultivate. A growth mindset frees us from the expectation of being perfect. Failures and errors are not indicative of our limits, but tools that help our development.
A curiosity mindset is also essential because curiosity is our learning engine. And it can be cultivated, even in those who do not consider themselves naturally curious. Curiosity is the search for awareness, the opening of ideas and the ability to make connections between different concepts.
Then practice.In order to be more effective and facilitate the process, there are some good practice behaviors that help us, as “apprentices”, make the most of our experiences. Establishing clear learning objectives, dedicating and protecting time to learn, obtaining feedback, reflecting and evaluating our progress, are critical to the “lifelong learning”journey.
But the key theme I would like to develop has to do with deliberate practice, one of the most relevant behaviors to accelerate the way we learn, retain and transfer.
Practice, especially practice in context, is absolutely critical to learning. Many of us believe that practice makes perfect, but this classic saying is not entirely correct. As Richard Turner says, an absolute phenomenon in the art of card magic, “Perfect practice makes perfect”. In the world we live in today, we don't need to be perfect like the documentary DEALT shows us that humans can be. But it is important to understand that doing things over and over again does little to build your skills. Instead, the suggestion we make is that our focus is on engaging in challenging activities in order to expand our expertise .
Instead of training your presentation several times, we train the specific aspect of our presentation that needs to be improved. Instead of developing our strong skills, we should invest in upgrading those that are more fragile. Instead of making an intensive journey in the attempt of generic learning, we must bet on a spaced and consistent journey of specific learning.