People often assume that learning and growing is most critical during childhood and that not much changes after a person has their “come of age” moment. This is so far from the truth!
Learning and growing is something that should be a lifelong pursuit. Every day is an opportunity to wake up and not only be excited about what you’re going to do that day but also about what you’re going to learn. Your world becomes so much bigger, and opportunities become much greater when you view learning and growth as a gift. In today’s ever-changing world, this is more important than ever for both your personal and professional life.
I personally prioritize lifelong learning in three ways: reading, doing, and observing:
Those who know me know that I am an avid reader. I love to read, and I am typically reading 4-6 books at any given time. Whether it’s physically reading a book, reading on my Kindle, or listening to audiobooks and podcasts while I’m hiking or driving, I love consuming new information.
As an entrepreneur and leader, some of my favorite books to read are biographies of business leaders. Books like Shoe Dog by Phil Knight and the biographies of Steve Jobs, J.D. Rockefeller, and Andrew Mellon have taught me so much. Not only do these books highlight mistakes to avoid, but they also expose leaders to ideas and perspectives that may differ from their own. This can prompt new ways of thinking, which can lead to new innovations and opportunities. Since the road to success is rarely smooth, it can be validating to read about experiences you’ve shared with leaders you admire and respect.
Being an entrepreneur involves trying new things, taking risks to see what works, and learning from your mistakes. I’ve noticed that people often let fear dominate them and are too cautious. They “short-circuit” their learning process because they are too afraid to fail, be criticized, or make a mistake. It can be scary, but we learn things through attempts, failures, and successes – the process in and of itself is incredibly valuable.
I know it was for me when I was building Whole Foods. Did I make mistakes? Of course! Some huge ones. But the truth is, if I could go back in time and change things that I did wrong, I wouldn’t. My actions and learnings along the way were invaluable and made me the person and leader I am today. Try to embrace the process – even when it’s scary!
I’ve also discovered that sometimes you can learn the most by not actually doing, and instead learn by listening, observing, and empathizing with others. What are you missing? What haven’t you considered, or should you reconsider? What can you learn by understanding the perspective of someone who sees things differently than you do? One of the best ways to stay inspired and motivated to learn and grow is to surround yourself with people who are actively doing the same. It’s worth noting that this type of learning can’t really happen if you aren’t actually open to evolving your thinking or admitting you may have been wrong about something.
Lifelong learning is so important for business leaders. The landscape is constantly changing and evolving, and you have to be able to evolve with it. Those who remain stagnant and resist opportunities to learn and grow will have a very difficult time thriving in today’s fast-paced dynamic business world, so make learning and growth part of your routine.
Leaders – How do you prioritize continued learning and growth?