Learning is a deeply intentional act. While there are some things we can learn without thinking too much about it, I think, for the most part, we have to deeply commit ourselves to the role of lifelong learner.
Too many people stop the act of educating themselves with their university degree, and that is truly a tragedy.
When I think about learning and education, I associate it with many different feelings and emotions. There’s an element of self-discovery and perspective. Learning opens up new worlds, challenges our conceptions, and forces us to see things in new ways. Through new knowledge, we grow and can apply this information in order to succeed. In school, this success is often limited to passing exams, but as adults, knowledge helps us succeed in our everyday tasks: in our relationships, our jobs, and decision-making.
Unfortunately many of us, over time, come to the conclusion that we know enough.
I’ve come to the conclusion that continuing your education, whether formally in a classroom setting or informally in your own pursuits, can revolutionize not only your personal success but your professional leadership skills.
6 Ways Lifelong Learning Creates the Best Leaders
1) It humbles you.
When you’re committed to lifelong learning, you’re constantly reminded of how little you actually know. As a leader, this is incredibly valuable. Being humble is always a virtue in leadership, as it keeps you in check as you lead. It prevents your position from being about power or ego and instead allows you to lead from a place of genuine intentions. You want what is best for your group and its goals, not for yourself.
Not only that, but being routinely humbled by your own educational endeavors keeps you open to possibilities, ideas, and input from those around you. As a leader, that is where you want to be.
2) It reminds you to look for new perspectives.
By the same token, when you’re in a state of constant learning, you’re primed to accept and listen to new information. It allows you to be receptive. In a position of leadership, this is valuable as it allows you to more readily collaborate in the workplace. You can listen to and examine new perspectives beyond your own with ease.
3) It brings something new to the table.
As a lifelong learner, you have the ability to keep things fresh. A leader, in part, exists to inspire. You motivate. When you yourself are excited about what you are learning, doing, and bringing to the conversation, that can catch and spread to the rest of your team.
4) It’s a constant mental challenge.
There’s something to be said about lifelong learning in terms of the mental challenge it presents to us. As we age, our senses tend to dull, and that includes our brain’s processing power. One of the ways we can keep our senses sharp is to continue our education.
If you’re used to flexing your brain, you’re going to be adept at critical thinking and problem solving as well, which translate beautifully into the workplace.
5) It holds you to a higher standard.
One of the most difficult things about leadership is actually pushing others to fulfill their potential. Have you stopped to ask yourself if you’re reaching yours? Continuing your education helps you reach you in this quest. It’s a sign to others that you value yourself and value being the best you can be. This, in a leader, is inspiring. It shows that you hold yourself to this standard and that you are pushing forward.
As a leader, this can be motivating to your team. You aren’t just telling your team to better themselves, you yourself are already doing the work.
6) It teaches perseverance.
There’s little about true learning that is easy. Getting new information to stick is difficult and it only becomes more difficult as we age. It’s actually physically painful to study and “flex” the brain to the point where new information is retained.
Through this, however, we gain greater perseverance. This skill is relevant across every field and business, regardless of leadership styles. Working with other people is always a challenge. If you can stick with it to learn something new, you can see a project or problem through to the end, too.
How has continuing your education impacted your career? Share your story in the comments!