Sep 252010

Self Improvement – A Guide to Learning

Learning is a never-ending process of personal change

Part of the joy of life is the continuous wonder of learning new things. When you integrate new knowledge with what you already know, you build a deep, richly textured fabric of wisdom that can be applied to make life more satisfying and productive. In other words: knowledge is your key to success.

It’s surprising how many people lose the ambition to keep on learning once they finish formal schooling. The fact is that school (including college) teaches you HOW to learn but only gives you an initial load of facts and skills. There is so much more to know!

A Manager in Louisiana says, “I’ll be learning until I’m 90 years old and on crutches.” She understands that learning doesn’t have to end until the end. Personally, I plan to live a lot longer than 90.

“All human beings, by nature, desire to know.”

“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning today is young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.”
-Henry Ford

“The only person who is educated is the one who has learned how to learn … and change.”
-Carl Rogers

“In a world that is constantly changing, there is no one subject or set of subjects that will serve you for the foreseeable future, let alone for the rest of your life. The most important skill to acquire now is learning how to learn.”
-John Naisbitt

“… in the world of the future, the new illiterate will be the person who has not learned how to learn.”
-Alvin Toffler

“Knowledge has three degrees – opinion, science, illumination. The means or instrument of the first is sense; of the second, dialectic; of the third, intuition.”

A brief thank you to my readers:
“To read a writer is for me not merely to get an idea of what he says, but to go off with him, and travel in his company.”
-Andre Gide (1903)

Imitate what works for others

Look for successful people and learn from what they are doing. When you imitate what they are doing, you can expect to begin having the same results.

Don’t fixate on a single individual. You can do better. Pay attention to the attitudes and results of all the successful people you admire. You can meet many of these folks in person and even more through the books they have written. Not every book contains advice that is right for you. But, as you continue reading widely you will see patterns emerge and begin to identify the things that you need to do.

Now comes the hard part. You have to change. When you recognize old patterns of response that need to be changed, make that change as hard and as well as you can. Our habits and mental patterns are real and have power. If you are going to get out of a rut, you have to invest enough energy to get fully clear.

Once you have made the desired change, you can see more than when you were in a rut. This is the best time to take a good look around, reevaluate everything, fix your sights on your goal and decide which change will take you further in that direction.

“I invent nothing; I rediscover.”

Don’t be limited by what others do

When you read a self-help book you can pick up some good ideas. Never, never stop there. The author doesn’t know everything. Read some more authors. Feed your mind a flood of vicarious experience. Expose yourself to a wide variety of experience. Collect ideas.

Then what do you do? Have respect for your own experience and good sense. Pick out the things that are good for you. Send problems to your subconscious to figure out and then listen when creative ideas come back. In the final analysis it’s your life; you make the choices and you stand responsible for the results.

“If you see in any given situation only what everybody else can see, you can be said to be so much a representative of your culture that you are a victim of it.”
-S. I. Hayakawa

“We can be knowledgeable with another man’s knowledge, but we cannot be wise with another man’s wisdom.”
-Michel De Montaigne

Everybody starts out ignorant

It’s OK to not know as much as someone else. At one time, that other person knew less than you do now. Do you get the point? You will learn if you persist. More, you can teach what you do already know. There are plenty of people who haven’t yet opened their eyes to recognize even the outline of what you already recognize as wonderful and important.

You don’t have to have everything figured out before you start. Like a journey, you don’t have to know every step ahead of time, just be willing to keep getting closer to your destination. You will learn as you go along. You will experiment. You will make mistakes and learn from those mistakes. In the end, you will be the expert.

“The work will teach you how to do it.”
-Estonian Proverb

“To know that you do not know is best. To pretend to know when you do not know is a disease.”
-Lao Tzu

“Everyone is ignorant, only in different subjects.”
-Will Rogers

Build a library and read at least one book every month

You are going to accumulate books, magazines and clippings. All you have to do is organize your educational materials and you have a library. Books are still the best way to study and learn at your own pace. You should constantly be acquiring more knowledge about your areas of interest. In turn, this should constantly expand your areas of interest.

Building a library shows your commitment to education. It provides the means to help others to learn as well.

Set aside a budget for building your library. Subscribe to appropriate magazines and newsletters. Find books that you know add important information to your reference collection.

You don’t always have to buy books at retail. You can find real bargains in used book stores. If you have a store and you resell books, your wholesaler will save you about 40% off the retail cost.

“Self-education is, I firmly believe, the only kind of education there is.”
-Isaac Asimov

“Nothing has such power to broaden the mind as the ability to investigate systematically and truly all that comes under thy observation in life.”
-Marcus Aurelius

Build your reputation

Studying and learning earns a lot of long term benefits. It improves your self confidence because you really are more knowledgeable and competent. You know that you know more and so does everybody else. Your reputation will grow.

Studying and learning sets you apart. Not everyone has the self-discipline to apply themselves. It’s amazing how many people do just enough to get by. Studying and learning makes you a better teacher. You will make many close friends because your students will appreciate your sharing your knowledge with them. Teaching is a very personal activity that bonds people together.

When your customers have questions and you have answers, this strengthens your position in the marketplace. Your reputation will spread and the extra word-of-mouth advertising will increase your business.

“Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other one thing.”
-Abraham Lincoln

Copyright 1996, 2010, David Satterlee

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License, which essentially says that you are free to share the work under the conditions that you attribute it fully, do not use it for commercial purposes, and do not alter it.