Monday, April 29, 2013

Do You Have A Learning Mind Set?

Learning by Doing
Learning by Doing (Photo credit: BrianCSmith)
by Rajiv Kumar Luv

We live in times when breath-taking technological changes and dramatic business paradigm shifts are occurring all around us.

If you are out of touch with things for a week, you begin to feel outdated.

In this super-charged climate, only the fittest survive and if you are not constantly aware of the changing environment around you - and able to adapt and change as necessary you will find yourself slowly dropping out of the race.

If we don't spend time sharpening the saw, then we will no longer be able to do our job. So the rapid changes in technology and business practices, makes it imperative that the information and skills needed to succeed in this changing environment be constantly honed.

Learnability is a very important soft skill that we need to consistently work on.

Being a trainer for over 22 years now, I would like to share some thoughts on the subject of learning. Let me begin by making a strong statement. "If a person/employee/participant does not yearn to learn then no methodology can teach him anything, he will find something wrong with everything."

Classroom sessions - boring, Outbound Training - stupidity, absolute waste of time, Peer-to-peer learning - I may be replaced, eLearning - no time.

My Guru and mentor, Dr. N.H. Atthreya, must be about 92 years old now, is still a very eager, enthusiastic learner. I also know a number of people who are in their mid-forties and proudly say that they have learnt everything they needed to learn. A good learner can learn from anything.

One day, as I was with Dr Atthreya, sitting and discussing the session that just got over, a boy came to give us glasses of tea, I noticed that Dr. Atthreya asked this boy a few questions and then made a note of those points on his pad, he had learnt from a tea-boy!

I have also come across participants who insist that they would only learn from faculties who are either from abroad or from the IIT's and IIM's.

There was a story that Dr. Atthreya would narrate quite often that I would like to share.

It seems once Dr. Atthreya was invited for dinner by a certain family, when it was dinner time everyone assembled at the dining table, the host, his wife and their children, but one of the sons was missing for the dinner and the family waited, they could see the son going from one room to another as if looking for something, but he would not join for dinner and the family didn't start eating.

Dr. Atthreya was curious, so he asked the host, what was happening, why was the son not joining for dinner? The host explained, "We have a family rule, that whenever we assemble for dinner, we first say our prayers and then each member has to share one new thing they have learnt during the day."

The son who was not joining for dinner was frantically looking for a learning to share at the dinner table! What a way to program the mind to be a lifelong learner.

If a person/employee wants to learn they will find a way, but if they don't then they will find an excuse why the training/trainer is not good. No Organization can make a person hungry for learning; it has to come from within the person.

Whenever I am doing an in-house program I have a very simple test to identify the eager learners, they arrive in the class before the session starts, and the ones not so eager have to be repeatedly called by the HR coordinator, still they would take 30-45 minutes to join the class.

It could be possible, that these people have genuine reasons, but the behaviour does speak about their motivation and commitment levels towards learning. Sometimes, it also happens that they have been informed about the training just the night before ... that is an issue which calls for another article!

When I look back on my own learning I think I have been very fortunate. I need to tell you my story. I had a school friend, our friendship started when we were in the 5th standard, as we got closer, we would visit each other's house to play.

His house was a very unique house, you could not see the walls of the room at all because of the bookshelves, his father had a great collection, there were books on every imaginable subject. I never saw more creative use of books other than reading. I need to mention that my friend's family was not doing well financially.

When I could not find something to sit on, my friend would stack a few encyclopaedias and make a stool for me, I also saw him take a few books and use it as a pillow when he would lie down, and once he threw a book at a cockroach to kill it!

So whenever I went to his house, no matter what I touched, a book came into my hand and I would open and read it. I and my friend were reading Reader's Digest in the 5th Standard and our favourite pass time was to discuss those articles and critique them.

Let me admit here, before meeting my friend, I would only pick up a book which started with the sentence, "Once upon a time.." My friend played a very important role in creating a love for reading in me, thereby making me a learner for life.

So whenever you get an opportunity to learn, whether it is a classroom, outbound, peer-to-peer, shared, just-in-time, on the job or eLearning go into it with the mind-set and attitude of learning.

Always keep these two questions in mind, what can I learn from this? How can I use it in my personal and professional life? No matter how bad the training or trainer is, if your attitude is right, you can still takeaway some valuable learning.

Hi, This is Rajiv Kumar Luv. My passion in life is to make a difference in the lives of people so that they achieve their personal as well as professional best. I am absolutely committed to excellence in human resource development.

You can learn more about me and the work I do by visiting: http://www.rajivkumarluv.com/ I have been helping Organizations improve their people, performance and profits for the past 25 years. Visit my website at the above link to know how I can help you or your Organization.

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