Learning As a Way of Life

Learning As a Way of Life

In this week’s post on lifelong learning, Ron Slee tackles the difficulties of making time for ourselves in “Learning As a Way of Life.”

Should Learning be a Way of Life?

Over my career and involvement in training and teaching one thing has always stood out to me. The amount of time and effort that we devote in our lives to our own personal health and development seems always to come last. Imagine that. We spend our time working, in many cases the same job for years, and we don’t do much if anything to get to another level of opportunities.

A number of years ago my wife and I took a vacation. A nice vacation for a couple of weeks. During these two weeks, I spent each morning looking out at magnificent scenery while I was on a treadmill. That is when it struck me. I had not spent any time at all on my own personal health and wellbeing. I don’t think I am alone in this regard. We get into ruts in our lives. We have our personal lives and our professional lives and we get to a place where we have everything under control and we are comfortable with our lives. Or so we think.

So, when the vacation was over and we returned home I reverted to my normal life which left no time for me.

During the time I was teaching in a classroom, I always asked the class to tell me about the last book that they read. Rarely had anyone read a book in the last thirty days, or ninety days, a few had read a book in the past year. Does that remind you about the time I DON’T invest in myself? The people in my classes rarely did anything in the form of reading that helped them develop as individuals, either in their personal or professional lives.

I think it is long past the time when we should be investing in ourselves.

When I worked in dealerships, I regularly got a book for the members of my team. We all read the same book and set a day when we would talk about that book and share with each other our impressions. It was always enlightening to all of us. We were talking about our personal impressions, with no filters. No judgment, no one was right or wrong, we were just talking as people. I found that the team became much closer as a result of this exercise. You should try it, or something like it, with your teams. Maybe even in your family if your children are old enough.

Recently my granddaughter moved to Hawaii to take her Master’s Degree at the University of Hawaii. It is a real joy for us to have her this close. During the past six weeks or so we have spent a lot of time together and those of you who know me reasonably well can imagine the conversations we get into with each other. As you know I am a contrarian. I love debating. And it really doesn’t matter which side of the debate I am on. During this time my granddaughter has figured me out and we now can have some really vigorous debates about darn near any subject you want to talk about. That is also a joy for me as it shows me a person who is growing in their thinking and communications styles.  

Recently I was talking with the President of a University and I was asking him what he viewed as the most significant elements of learning that the students coming to university were lacking. He was very clear in those three things.

  1. Critical Thinking Skills
  2. Analytical Skills 
  3. Communications Skills

I was intrigued and we talked about it for some time. It would appear that when the US introduced the “No Child Left Behind” program, the teaching became more about teaching to a score on a test than teaching people to think. Of course, in some parts of the U.S., a low test score was grounds for firing a teacher. Learning the subject matter should be the primary objective, of course. Learning to think and develop your own intellect was also a priority. It would appear that aspect of learning was less prioritized in the face of so much high stakes testing. To this University Leader it showed.

I would like for us to get much more serious about our own personal development. As you know one of the goals for us at Learning Without Scars is to help everyone identify their individual personal potential. Then to get on a path to achieving our potential. That applies to all of us. Caroline and I are in this mode constantly. She is much more effective at it than I am as she has held a full-time teaching job while at the same time involved in personal development with a mentor once a week and completing her own Master’s program in education. I feel like a slacker beside her. But think about that for a moment. Caroline has put embedded learning in her life. 

Writing this blog has renewed my commitment to put learning into my day-to-day life. I read constantly. I recommend five books in each of our Quarterly Newsletters so each of you can be stimulated to do the same thing. The newsletters all have four main subject areas; parts, service, selling and business. They are in the form of a separate document which I wanted you to use for Continuous Improvement in your work.

I am very fortunate in that I am exposed to people that take me out of my comfort zone when I do Zoom calls and create our Podcasts and YouTube and Vimeo Films. I am challenged to explore a subject on which my guests are subject matter experts, and I have a conversation with them that can be helpful to our Learning Without Scars audience.

But I am entering a new phase in my life. It seems that the changes will never end. I am going to embed Learning into my day-to-day life, and I invite you to join me in this new phase.    

The Time is Now.

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