“Learning is one of the defining aspects of being human. Truly profound learning experiences change who we are—we change through learning. All learning involves thinking and doing, action and reflection. Learning changes what we can do—it is always active—you haven’t learned to walk until you walk.” Peter Senge

Learning is a lifelong natural process. We learn, grow and change continuously as we move through life. Our natural tendency is to gravitate towards comfort and the known. Learning brings the unknown and discomfort of trying new things and potentially failing or looking incompetent (especially if externally imposed).

Learning requires that we change the way we think, what we think about, the depth or breadth of thinking, the timeframe of our thinking and learning to understand the systemic interconnectedness of things. Learning requires that we change the way we feel and what we believe, especially when our paradigms, assumptions and stereotypes are challenged. Learning requires us to become more aware of our choices, our behaviour, the consequences of our actions and our impact on others. Learning requires us to leave the safe haven of the known, and embark on an uncomfortable but exciting journey of trying new things, feeling foolish, incompetent and humble. Learning requiresletting go of the old disempowering beliefs, assumptions and ways of working and embracing the new more empowering approaches to living life and achieving success in a balanced, sustainable way.

Learning = Change

Change (and therefore learning) requires awareness, insight, willingness and action. Change cannot happen without awareness (it’s not working, something needs to change), without insight (something I am thinking/feeling/doing needs to change), without willingness (I am willing to make the effort and be uncomfortable to change) and of course, change cannot happen without repetitive action and practice (I am doing what I need to everyday, to make the change part of my life). See featured image.

Here are some tips to help you assess your level of readiness for change

Awareness

  • Are clear about what is expected in your role – or have a role model?
  • Have you asked for feedback from multiple people (including your family) to understand your strengths and gaps?
  • Have you stood in front of the mirror and looked yourself in the eye and asked: “Am I truly happy with my behaviour and with my life?

Insight

  • Have you fully acknowledged that you and only you can change your behaviour?
  • Do you still blame others for lack of opportunity, training or coaching or the right environment to start building a new skill or behaviour?
  • Have you looked deep within yourself to understand how your own habits, beliefs, assumptions, behaviours, blind-spots and perceived pay-offs influence your current behaviour?

Willingness

  • How willing are you to move out of your comfort zone and enter into the zone of uncertainty and potential risk and ridicule?
  • Have you identified which fears (e.g. failure) may cause resistance and an approach to build courage and overcome these fears?
  • Are you willing to forego the pay-offs of the old behaviour e.g. previous confidence and success, delicious fattening food, sleeping in?

Action

  • Are you taking daily action to learn or practice new skills or habits?
  • Do you have a learning partner to hold you accountable e.g. a coach, friend, family member?
  • Are you sticking to your calendar appointments with yourself or your learning partner?