This article comes from Entrepreneur.
For a long time, I made excuses for not reading and researching material that wasn’t related to my work. But at a certain point, I realized that in order to become a more open-minded, creative and innovative leader, I had to make learning a lifelong habit. Here are four ways to do it.
What are some concepts, thoughts and practices you’d like to explore? Having a variety of passions plays an important role in maintaining our interest, but the goal of learning should be to push us beyond our comfort zone. Part of this involves discomfort, and that’s a good thing.
In order to manage and overcome mental barriers, we should have a firm understanding of our own limitations, and what we’d like to change.
Here’s something to keep in mind: you should learn more about the things that matter to you. What excites you. But also about what challenges your beliefs and previous ways of thinking.
Instead of spending your free time catching up on the latest Netflix show, actively seek out opportunities to stay up-to-date with growth opportunities.
Getting rid of distractions is a good rule of thumb when learning new material, but also focus on setting aside small, regular time allotments. This means setting up realistic goals like leaving your phone in another room for a 30-minute block of time.
Consuming knowledge in these bite-sized quantities gives your mind time to process and recover from intense concentration.
But remember: it’s the repetition that counts. The most successful entrepreneurs all share the same trait: they focus on a handful of practices and rinse and repeat until gaining mastery. American essayist and philosopher, Ralph Waldo Emerson, agrees:
“That which we persist in doing becomes easier for us to do; not that the nature of the thing itself is changed, but that our power to do is increased.”
No matter where you are on your journey, turning to a community of like-minded individuals can help make learning fun and exciting. Whether you participate in online or offline courses, you can gain more insight by connecting with other learners.
Engaging and participating in activities with people that are better than us can also give us opportunities to examine our beliefs and expand our thinking. We’re also able to learn from others’ experiences and provide value to them in return.
Make specific goals of joining a group or signing up for a formal class on what interests you. Knowing that you have a community to share notes with and provide you with feedback can keep you on track.
Lifelong learners understand that smart goal setting means increasing our learning agility, or our ability to take knowledge from one concept and apply it to another.
Understandably, most of us will automatically think that the knowledge and skills directly related to our work should take priority. If you stick to reading business books, the thinking goes, you’ll have better results.
But what I’ve discovered about being a lifetime learner is that significant progress can only be made by translating diverse concepts and applying them to my role as a leader. Regularly practicing a few minutes of meditation every day, for instance, creates a domino effect by helping me cultivate patience and awareness in other areas of my business.
It’s a lesson every founder can understand. The key to success has less to do with obsessing over consuming the “right kinds” of materials, and more to do with how you use what you learn. This is what ultimately gives us a fresh perspective.
Simply put: Keep growing and don’t settle.
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