Kids are pretty malleable. In just a couple of years they learn how to move, crawl, walk, run, feed themselves, speak … they even learn about the culture they live in, what’s expected of them and how to manipulate some situations to their benefit. They are like sponges for information, and they are anxious to learn how to do whatever new activities they can find.
Until they reach a certain age.
At that point, children start to question whether they have the ability to accomplish new things, and so they often stop trying. At the same time, as children get older and then reach adulthood, they often don’t enjoy learning as they once did. Maybe it’s because they feel they should know everything by that age, or maybe they just feel they already know enough. Sometimes it’s because they feel embarrassed that they don’t know things they should.
But to accomplish great things in life, you have to keep learning.
It doesn’t matter how smart you are or how knowledgeable you are in certain areas. You can always learn more. To assume you already know enough is to stagnate, and stagnation does not bring success.
If you were to interview the most successful people in the world today, there is a common denominator: they say they are always learning. Successful people seek and find people who know what they’re talking about so they can make sure to learn from them. They read books and magazines. They watch what others are doing. The great motivational speaker Bob Proctor once said the key to his success was to never stop learning. You will find if you spend time with a very successful person, he or she often spends far more time listening than speaking, and that is in order to learn.
Whatever area you want to achieve more success in: weight loss, business, art, family, gardening – or perhaps you want to achieve more success in many areas – you will achieve that success partly by learning.
If you have gotten out of the habit of learning, it’s never too late to restart. Here are some steps you can take to bring learning back into your life.
1. Read, read read.
The Internet is great, but books and magazines have fact checkers, not to mention more legal responsibility if they print something that’s incorrect. If you don’t want to, or can’t, spend the money to purchase these items, remember public libraries are there for you, and the librarians can be great resources. Read everything you can about the area you want to be successful in, but read information about other areas too. You never know when you’ll find some bit of information useful.
If you’re out of the habit of reading, that’s ok. You’ll get better – and quicker – at reading as you do it more and more.
When you’re with other people, especially people with skills you want to have, listen. Ask them about themselves. Ask them about their ideas. We often feel a need to broadcast information about ourselves, especially if we want to impress the other person. But if you really want to impress the person across from you, you’ll do so with your ability to listen. In addition, you will learn how to become more successful, which will impress plenty more people than talking about yourself will.
3. Accept what you don’t know
No one knows everything, even experts. The truly self-confident person has no trouble admitting what he or she doesn’t know. Trying to prove you know everything only cuts you off from learning more. Instead of trying to prove yourself a know-it-all, prove yourself confident enough to admit what you don’t know, and you soon will know it – because you’ll have allowed yourself to learn it.
Reading and listening can take you only so far. You also learn by doing. You can read every book on baseball ever written, you can admit you know little about baseball and you can listen to every professional baseball player explain how to play it, but that will not make you a successful baseball player. Along with learning, you have to do – otherwise known as putting your money where your mouth is.
Yes, this is a little contradictory since I just told you to listen and learn, but if you know enough about a subject to teach others, this can help reinforce your own learning. If you are taking a course in something that interests you, for example, in addition to working hard and doing well you can also find someone taking the class who isn’t doing as well, and help that person. This will solidify what you have been learning.
Successful people are lifelong learners. Learning can help bring you exactly where you want to be in life. Don’t fear it; embrace it!