The Continuous Pursuit of Lifelong Learning

Summer is about to end and we’re entering that time of year where darkness comes faster and the weather grows cooler. When I think about fall, what I recall most are my school days – attending football games, decorating lockers and lugging all those books to and from school (I was way too proud to wear a backpack). I enjoyed school. Not simply for the socialization but also for the learning. I developed my love of reading in my English Literature class. I enjoyed Spanish, Political Science and even my Math classes. One exception was Science. I lost interest through a series of chemical mishaps requiring intervention by my Chemistry teacher which I am sure he will never forget. Truly, I enjoyed every other class.

My passion for learning increased when I entered college. A whole new world opened to me and I couldn’t get enough. I took so many extra classes that I finished early. When I graduated college I thought to myself –“Okay, I’m done!” Little did I know that my learning journey had just begun. Formal education simply sets us up for life-long learning. It’s incumbent upon each of us to continue to learn to fuel our career growth.

Learning certainly has been the most significant factor in my professional development. I read continuously – anything and everything that interests me. Quite frankly, the further away from my core business the more appealing the topic is. For example, I have recently been reading quite a bit about design thinking and the need for simplification – topics that most people would not associate with health insurance and wellness. As I read about these and other concepts, I visualize how they might relate to my world and more often than not, I find a great deal of applicability.

Learning isn’t limited to reading. I find that some of the most useful information comes from talking with people. A word to the wise, if you are seated next to me on a plane, you may want to ask the flight attendant to switch seats. I will engage you in conversation. I never know where these conversations will take me and I learn so much. One time I sat next to the Pillsbury Dough Boy! Not really, it was an employee of the company who was in their product development area and we had a great conversation about rolling out (pun intended) new products.

Another powerful way of learning is observation. I like to see products being manufactured, items being baked and more. I also enjoy people watching when I travel or at community events. Years ago, observation caused me to notice an emerging trend around pets. I had read several articles on increased spending on pets and then one day, I was on an early morning walk in Toronto and I saw a large window display in a major department store focused on upscale pet accessories. Sure enough over the next few years, the pet industry began to grow exponentially.

As you begin to enjoy the change in seasons, I encourage you to go back to school by setting some goals for ensuring you are on a continuous learning journey. You won’t regret it. I haven’t.

Speak loudly, step boldly!

Image courtesy of velkr0September 17th, 2013 12:28pm Beth Bierbower lifelong learning business learning