By Bridget S. Lee, Ph.D.
When does learning stop? The answer should be never. Learning is a lifelong journey. When’s the last time that you learned something new or added new information to your knowledge base? If it takes you a few minutes to answer the question, you may have let some teachable moments pass you by. A teachable moment is an unplanned event during the day that a person can use as a learning opportunity. They can be classified as “Ah Ha” moments. Learning can be formal, informal passive or active. Have you ever learned anything by accident? Hmm…. One should always seek to learn something, be it big or small. Every day is full of teachable moments. Whether or not you seek to take advantage of them is up to you.
We live in a very dynamic world. New innovations and technologies are appearing every day that require us to learn. We have to constantly obtain and process information to function. Have you ever been required to attend a training class? You may have thought to yourself, “Why do I have to attend this class? I already know how to do this! This training will be a waste of my time.” Your initial thoughts may not have put that particular learning experience in the most positive light. However, you attended the class and obtained new information about a subject that you thought you knew everything about. As a result, you are now able to perform your job with greater proficiency. Just like we need air to live, we also need to learn new things in order to survive in this ever changing world that we live in. If you want to progress and do greater things with your life, be it personal or professional, you have to be constantly learning about new things or how to improve old things. The point is that you must be committed to a lifetime of learning.
Learn Constantly, Commit to a Lifetime of Learning
Martha Mayhood Mertz, the author of “Becoming ATHENA, Eight Principles of Enlightened Leadership” tells us to “Learn Constantly.” She quotes John Wooden former UCLA men’s basketball coach on this principle. Wooden states, “You must never become satisfied with your ability or level of knowledge.” In other words never think that you know it all. You may be a subject matter expert, but you by no means have all of the answers. There is always something more that you can learn. New knowledge is created every day.
According to Mertz, “Leaders don’t risk looking foolish by trying to look all-wise. Enlightened leaders are curiously, happily, hungrily trying to learn.” As you go through the day, look for opportunities to learn and embrace them with an open mind. Teachable moments both major and minor are happening all around you. It’s up to you, to identify and receive them. Seize the moment and actively participate in the daily opportunities to learn. If you want to move forward in your personal or professional life, you must commit to a lifetime of learning. You must learn constantly. Life and learning always complement each other.
Bridget Lee, Ph.D., is the Diversity Coordinator for the Orlando Utilities Commission.
Among her major responsibilities are planning, coordinating, conducting and managing a wide range of activities and projects related to diversity. She was a member of the inaugural class of ATHENA NextGen in Orlando in 2014.