Sustainable leaders keep learning. “We now accept the fact that learning is a lifelong process of keeping abreast of change. And the most pressing task is to teach people how to learn.” According to Peter Drucker. Learning how to learn sounds like an odd concept, yet like anything it's a discipline that we need to include in our lives; if we want to be effective. Drucker is an incredible thinker and draws a lot of wisdom from experience but also from study and learning from others. To do likewise we have to remain flexible and humble. “I am always ready to learn although I do not always like being taught,” said Winston Churchill. I can relate.
But, if we don't keep learning, then we become stale and inflexible. I like to think I can learn something from everybody I meet. That mindset keeps me open to learning and listening and seeking to understand, regardless of who I met and their education, position of background. Stay open, we all have a story and we can genuinely learn from everyone we meet.
We live at an amazing time in history! There has never been a better time to learn. We literally have all the knowledge, all the thinking, all the facts, all the expertise in our pockets, in those small devices we almost ubiquitously use for the mundane.
The opportunity to keep learning by reading, podcasts, Ted talks on whatever topic you're interested in, has never been better. You can literally go from no knowledge to an expert in double quick time. Over a decade ago I became interested in social media from a business perspective, and thought I should dive in. From opening a Facebook account to giving a lecture to the international CEO forum on “Social Media for the CEO”, took two years.
The world is changing so we have to as well. We can only change if our thinking is challenged, and we can only do that, if we're willing to learn.
In addition to the practical application of learning that will directly help us in our work life, I think we should also learn about subjects that are not directly related. There's something healthy about just stretching our minds, enlarging our thinking and being challenged. If we find a topic or an interest, and learn more about it, we expand. I'm sure the brain operates like a muscle, and as we exercise it, it maintains its health. Maybe when we stop learning, we stop growing. Certainly, the sustainable leaders I know are still learning, still leading and still growing.