There are many, easy options to go deep into subject matter today. However, knowledge is indeed an ocean, and it spans as wide as it goes deep. When setting out to learn something new, the big question one often has is, ‘What do I need to learn?’
Now, that is a very valid question. New ideas and discoveries all seem alien at first and entirely unrelated to your everyday work and interests. Take Blockchain. It originally seemed relevant only in the world of cryptographers and coding geeks. Quickly it has found its way into numerous applications from Fintech to healthcare. Then there's stuff you have never heard of one day, and suddenly everyone around you is attending a decoupage workshop or cooking with quinoa! By the way, do you know what machine learning actually means?
We all have gap areas in our knowledge. As if to add some spice and complexity, today’s tools and resources make us blindsided to the fact that there are indeed things to know!
The Blindside of Learning
Let’s take a simple example. When you sign up on a blog platform like Medium, you are asked to pick a few areas of interest. Based on these, and your reading history, a few of the thousands of articles on Medium are presented to you. For all intents and purposes, you don’t even know that the other bit exists, leave alone getting a chance to read them.
The same goes for social media platforms- we are exposed more to the opinions of people we spend time following and interacting with, while completely ignoring the other 90% that’s happening in the background.
A few decades ago, learning was much more diffuse. In schools, we covered everything from mathematics to moral science. Our aptitude or lack thereof for a subject had little to do with the constant exposure we got to it anyway. It home, several enthusiastic parents bought encyclopedias. While we skimmed through the pages to find the Pyramids of Giza, we were inadvertently exposed to the Pythagoras Theorem and the role of the Praying Mantis in the insect kingdom. In other words, a diffused learning system gave us greater exposure.
Take Charge Of Your Learning
How do we fix this?
By recognising, and acknowledging, that the other ninety percent exists. That’s the first step.
Once that’s truly done, you will begin to notice things you had never paid much attention to before. Like quinoa, for example! Observing the environment around us as a learning aid helps us learn from every situation, as we discussed earlier.
Secondly, when using learning tools, remember that each one has its own limitations. For example, Coursera as a platform is getting more and more specific with its offerings. This works for its core audience, but not so much for an everyday learner. Corporate trainings, too, are often done in templates and silos, and not everyone may benefit from them. The learner group gets generalised, and so does the content you receive.
However, it is up to you to make the most of what is available to you. If you’re not keen on investing in a platform and going down the certification route, you can learn from TED talks, even.
Likewise, if a training module isn’t working for you, letting the right team member know and providing feedback on what can be done will help fix the context for you and many others. Ask for tools and assessments that personalise the experience and feedback you receive. As you go through the program, look for case studies and inspiring stories in the same area.
When it comes to learning to make changes to your personal and professional life, nothing works quite as well as one-on-one coaching. It is a journey you embark on with a coach and often lasts a few months at a time, giving you the space you need to make changes and make a habit of them.
What are you looking to learn today? What is your action plan for learning it? Jot it down in a journal, or share with us in the comments for a dash of extra motivation!