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Loving learning

I had a nice lunch with a lovely woman today. She’s a very experienced trainer/coach and a mutual friend connected us via LinkedIn. In fact, it turns out she has coached a number of friends and past colleagues and like me her background is also in advertising/marketing. Anyway, we had a lot to share and talk about – in fact, I’m sure we could have whiled away the whole afternoon with our respective stories and experiences.

What particularly impressed me about what she shared was that she had really embraced learning. She had done everything from formal trainer-training, NLP and coaching, to a psychology degree and a whole bunch of things in between. Here was someone who had gradually switched her role around 15 years ago and then immersed herself in improving her product, her offering and presumably herself in the process. It was inspiring and motivating to hear. We didn’t have time to really dig deep on the personal development side of things, though I did touch upon how much I’d gained from doing the Landmark Forum some 14-15 years ago.

If you’ve done the Forum, you will know what I mean when I say it can have a profound influence on who you are. It is a rigorous exploration of self, and as they say at the beginning of the process, you’ll learn things about yourself you didn’t know you didn’t know. Personally, I couldn’t help but grow and expand through the process of learning, exploring, and confronting aspects of myself. And as Oliver Wendell Holmes Jnr once said, “Man’s mind stretched to a new idea never goes back to its original dimensions.”

I rather like stretching my mind. Not in a Sudoku-Crossword-MENSA kind of way, though of course I can see how fantastic that might be and I’m sure brain-training is good for the head muscles. No, for me, it’s learning that is driven by curiosity in others – in people – which I am most drawn to. So the learning I enjoy is often around self-development, or how to improve what I do or who I am. I’d rather like to be great at the more left-brain stuff, but it doesn’t call to me as much as understanding how for example playful parenting can help me better connect with my child, or how NLP can improve my communication skills.

The downside to this desire for learning is that I have far too many books on the go. On almost every table surface in our house there is a pile of semi-read books, much to my husband’s dismay. Each has so much to offer, and I relish those rare moments when I’m lost in the pages of glorious words that stimulate, evoke and create new thinking, new ideas, and new concepts. Wonderful. However, I can see that I need to create more discipline or method around this as the multi-book reading doesn’t serve me as well as a focused and concentrated time on a whole book, or complete course.

A tip I learned a few months back, which I confess I haven’t fully embraced yet, was how to read a book a day. Look at the author’s principles, getting a sense of their values and who they are – perhaps their bio or other intro. Check out the front cover, back cover and inside intro or preface. Read the first and last chapters. Then read the first two paragraphs and last two paragraphs of each chapter. From that, you should have a fair understanding of the content and learn a fair bit. You will also see whether it’s a book you really want dig into – particularly reference-type books.

As with all learning, it takes commitment. Commitment requires a kind of rhythm and once you have the rhythm, everything flows. I am going to review my book piles in the next few weeks and then commit to one or two. So friends, what about you? I invite you to embrace the new, arouse your curiosity and embark on a commitment to learn something new.

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