‘Why am I not learning anything?’: 5 tips for becoming a better learner
Maybe you’ve been in the same job for a few years. You’re doing fine in the position that you have, but you’re not really doing anything new or different from when you started.
Maybe you’re sitting in a college classroom, completely detached and checked-out of the conversation. Perhaps you don’t see the point of what’s being discussed, or you’re not sure there’s any practical way to use the information.
It’s likely that at some point in our lives, every single one of us will feel like we’re stuck. We’ll feel like we’re not growing, not going anywhere, or not getting anything out of life. When this happens, it’s important that we take charge and figure out why we feel this way.
In my experience, I’ve found that many of these situations have a common denominator: Anytime I feel stuck, it’s often because I’ve stopped learning.
Learning is for life
Becoming a active learner is important to building a successful life. It’s what helps us feel active, engaged and successful. Whether you learn by watching others or trying things out yourself, learning is how you grow.
Learning can also help you keep a humble attitude. If you stop learning, your ego won’t be kept in-check and you’ll start to think you know everything. If someone isn’t learning, that can also make it look like they are done growing. On the other hand, those who are hungry to learn grow fast.
It’s important to remember the more successful you become, the more important it is to stay humble and keep learning.
People who are successful are harder to manage than people who have failed or are struggling. That’s because success can get into our heads and make us feel like we’ve already learned enough. To counteract this tendency, we emphasize ongoing training and learning at every level to keep everyone’s egos in-check.
Finally, leaders have to remember that they must lead by example when it comes to learning. “Do as I say, not as I do” is not a practical approach to leadership. If I’m not bought-in on the idea, then it won’t work.
It’s not difficult to put this into practice. It can be as simple as the leadership books that I read with our leadership team. Every two weeks, we read a chapter and discuss what it means for our business. By preparing and actively participating in that conference call, I can help create a culture of learning that encourages us to grow and share information with one another.
5 ways to improve your learning habits
Interested in becoming a better learner? Here are five things that have helped me establish and maintain healthy habits:
- Accountability is everything. Whatever you’re learning or whatever you’re training for, do it with a partner or a team. It forces everyone to prepare so they are ready – no one wants to be the one person that didn’t read the book or didn’t show up to the gym.
- Treat learning like a calendar appointment. I wouldn’t skip a meeting with a customer, so I shouldn’t skip an opportunity to learn, either.
- Put your down time to good use. When you’re driving, listen to a podcast or audiobook. Find and learn about things that are interesting to you. Listen to it at 1.5x or 2.0x speed to keep it moving.
- Look for the nuances in your business. If you have a sales background, learn the nuances of production. If you have a marketing background, learn the nuances of payroll, etc. These can help you uncover an unexpected breakthrough.
- Learn from others. You can learn something new by either “touching the hot stove” yourself, or reading about someone else that already touched the hot stove. If you stand on the shoulders of others and learn from their experiences, you will grow faster.