Continuous learning is one of the most important investments a person can ever make. Often times when learning though we only focus on half the picture. We can memorize the lesson, but not quite understand it. It's the difference between regurgitating what we learned and being able to apply it. You may know 1+1 = 2, but that doesn't mean you know math.
This can cause us to fall into the same pitfalls and hold us back from moving forward. So we aren't always having to go down the arduous road of learning from our own mistakes until we finally understand. Here is a three step process you can use when trying to learn from your own experiences and others.
1. Seek to understand
Seek to Understand
The first step to understanding is to seek it out. If you're having a hard time at work having your voice heard for example, you have to begin with asking why is this happening. If your always finding excuses as to why things are the way they are, you'll never grow and move foward.
Reflection is key to understanding and multiplies your efforts. It's often the step that is most often missed in learning. We focus so much on practice, that we can miss out on reflecting to understand first. Here are just a few way's that you can reflect to understand.
There’s a lot of things you can learn by listening & I’m not talking about when you’re in a lecture. It’s important to know when to talk and when to listen. A lot of people in leadership position are quick to talk and have answers. The trouble with this, is that they are also quick to make assumptions and less likely to ask great questions. If you want to sound like the smartest person in the room, you have to be able to ask great questions. To do that, you need to slow down and gather the facts. Then based on the facts make educated decisions. Also, use your time listening to really understand the people around you. If you understand yourself and the people around you, you’ll be able to engage people on a whole other level.
You read so that you can understand. We all will learn a lot through our own experiences, but to accelerate your growth, it’s important to learn from others as well. When someone writes something down, and presents it to the world, they really reflect & think deeply on what they are writing. Reading also helps you to think deeply. You can reread what is wrote & really think about what you’re read. It’s a different experience than a conversation, or clip on YouTube.
You study so you can expand on what you’ve learned. When you go to a meeting, attend a lecture, watch a video it helps to write down things that stick out or area’s you’re not really getting. It helps to reflect on them later. It will help you grow in your thoughts, problem solving, & come up with new ideas.
Meditating, will help you to think deeply. Thinking deeply helps you grow on many levels, especially your ability to focus. Meditating can be a double edge sword though & it’s important to know that. A lot of people will meditate on the wrong things. I’ve been there & done that myself. I can remember driving to & from work many times, thinking about situations I didn’t like. Then I start making up arguments in my mind & continually escalate them until I make it home, wound up & stressed out to the max. I do have to say though, I won every single one of those made up arguments hands down. When you meditate, it’s important to focus on area’s that are going to make you happy & improve your life. When you have trouble doing that, focus on your priorities & what drives you.
It’s not just enough to know something. There are things that you should know inside & out. Memorization, will help you be more organized & communicate clearly. Now of course, you’re most likely not going to memorize everything, but focus on what’s important. Things that you should memorize are processes, words, quotes, elevator speeches, anything really that relates to what’s important to you.
Praying is in my opinion is the most important practice one can take. It allows you to unburden yourself, gain perspective, become more humble, & most importantly build a relationship with God. I truly believe God answers prayers. In the book of Proverbs there’s a great passage “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he”. It’s very easy to get caught up in what’s going on in the world. There’s a lot of things out there that will distract you. Praying will help center yourself & focus your heart on what’s important.
Once you've seek to understand, reflected on it your ready to practice. When your able to replicate your understanding you'll know you have the complete picture. This will help you learn much faster with related topics, be a better communicator & achieve the results you want.