Become an Agile, Self-directed Learner

The biggest barrier to learning today is not access, it’s motivation. Many people stop learning even though it’s an innate need and desire. The solution? Make learning completely your responsibility and avoid learning welfare like the plague.

Apple podcast buttonSpotify buttonGoogle podcast buttonAmazon Music button

Episode Show Notes

Today's lesson:
Become an Agile, Self-directed Learner

Key Points:
The biggest barrier to learning today is not access, it’s motivation. Many individuals stop learning when they get out of school or they don’t have outside requirements, external expectations, or a structured learning environment. Many people stop learning even though it’s an innate need and desire. The solution? Make learning completely your responsibility and avoid learning welfare like the plague.

Today's key action:
Identify an area of your professional life that you feel would benefit from some deliberate, aggressive, self-directed learning. And then book a 20 minute slot on your calendar within the next two days to do some intentional learning.

Episode Transcript

[music]

0:00:04.7 Freddy: Welcome back, Culture by Design listeners, it's Freddy and welcome to a new podcast format from Tim and Junior, LeaderFactor single point lessons, 10 minutes of practical learning on a single topic. These episodes will be published in addition to our regular full-length episodes every Monday. Listen to these extra segments and let us know what you think by leaving a review or reaching out on LinkedIn. Let's dive in.

[pause]

0:00:32.2 Junior: Welcome back everyone to Culture by Design. My name's Junior, I'm here with Dr. Tim Clark for a single-point lesson, the most valuable 10 minutes you'll spend in professional development all week. Tim, what's the lesson today? 

0:00:42.8 Dr. Tim Clark: The lesson today is to become an agile self-directed learner.

0:00:48.4 Junior: Carl Roger said, "I have come to feel that the only learning which significantly influences behavior is self-discovered" What a quote. Tim, what do you think about that? 

0:00:58.7 DC: Yeah it is. Well, it really is true that learning ultimately is experiential, and it's a personal experience, you can be taught, but you may not learn. Right? Those are very, very different things. We're gonna dig into that in this single point lesson, but I think that's a good point of departure here.

0:01:14.7 Junior: A couple of words in that quote, that stand out to me, the first is "only" most people use that word, at least that are as smart as Carl Rogers, they use it sparingly. I have come to feel that the only learning. And then the second word is significantly. So the only learning which significantly influences behavior is self-discovered. We should pay attention if someone like Carl Rogers, as confident as he is and in saying something like that. So one of the distinctions that we need to make is that there are two types of learning, there's self-directed learning, there's environment-directed learning, and today we're saying become an agile self-directed learner. So we're not talking about the environment-directed education and learning, we're talking about self-directed by choice, as opposed to by requirement.

0:02:01.1 DC: Let me mention something here, because let's go back to the word agile, agile means two things, it means number one, that you can change direction quickly, number two, it means that you can accelerate quickly. So you can change direction and you can accelerate quickly. That's what this means, and you're doing it in a self-directed way, you are guiding yourself where you're going and how fast you're going.

0:02:25.9 Junior: The reason that we're focusing on self-directed learning is because we feel that it's much more important, just as Rogers does. Your success in our opinion will be determined by whether or not you pitch your tent in the first type of learning, we talked about, self-directed. Alice Moore Hubbard, here's a quote for you, "Teaching is successful only as it causes people to think for themselves", Tim you heard out of this one what do you think about it? 

0:02:50.6 DC: Well, it goes right back to what Carl Rogers said. Teaching is successful only as it causes people to think for themselves, so it goes back to being self-directed, that's the entire focus and thrust of this is that it's got to be self-directed for it to be significant, for it to last, for it to have the impact that we're hoping for.

0:03:11.0 Junior: So what's a characteristic of our lives that is common across everyone, that there's a change curve. And this change curve is the way that we describe the rate at which things change, and we talked about this in the long form episode, not long ago. It's the dynamism of our environment, and over time, what has happened to this change curve, it's increased, it's become steeper and in large measure, due to technological advancement, and so in order to succeed, especially in today's environment, it has been true always, but your rate of learning must be at or above that change curve, that rate of change, and that's how we would describe learning agility.

0:03:52.4 DC: That's exactly right. So this is a diagnostic question that you can all ask ourselves, Am I learning at or above the speed of change, anything less than that will put you into an obsolescent cycle, and then you'll have a different set of consequences and a lack of opportunity as you take that path. So just think about where you are right now, are you learning at or above the speed of change.

0:04:19.5 Junior: And the speed of change is different for each of us, depending on where we are and what we do, the nature of our work, for some organizations that change curve might be terribly steep, they're in the bleeding edge of some piece of technology, and that cycle of obsolescence is in weeks, not months or years, and so your ability to stay ahead of the curve is more difficult and more important. If you're in a relatively stable traditional industry, maybe that change curve is lower, and I think that that's where this can get especially scary, because let's say that you get massively disrupted inside one of those more stagnant industries, have you been equipping yourself over time to react to that type of change that probably, and maybe necessarily will come.

0:05:09.4 Junior: Because the institution hasn't encouraged that, that environment-based learning hasn't been necessary. And so what have you been doing in the meantime? If that change curve for your industry is a six and you've been learning at a three, you're gonna be left behind, and if that's been happening for a decade and now it becomes really problematic, so it's incumbent upon each of us to keep up with whatever that change curve is, not just in our industry, but at the macro level. It's important to pay attention and see what technologies are coming down the pipe, which ones should we pay attention to, how should we continue to hone our skills. Right? 

0:05:44.5 DC: That's right. Junior it goes back to the distinction that you made at the beginning, Are we self-directed in our learning efforts or are we driven, guided, brought along by the environment, that fundamental distinction makes all the difference in the world because ultimately it's our choice whether we're hibernating or accelerating, and if we're waiting for the environment, then often the environment is not going to do it for us, and so we're just hibernating if we're waiting for them instead of accelerating, which always is a function of agile self-directed learning.

0:06:20.6 Junior: So here's an example for you, artificial intelligence, you've been hearing a lot about this, I'm sure everyone. But over the last several months, our team has had to adapt to this shifting landscape, and it hasn't been imposed upon us, but we've taken it upon ourselves to take a real look at this and integrate it into our work, and so if the change curve for our team was at a seven before, it's at nine right now. Our learning, has had to fundamentally change, and so what infrastructure, I think about this institutionally, for leader factor, what infrastructure existed inside our organization to equip people to make the most of this change in our landscape, AI? Nothing, there was nothing formal, there was certainly nothing topic-specific because it didn't exist, and so we...

0:07:03.8 DC: We didn't have a workshop.

0:07:05.4 Junior: No there was no workshop, so every individual had to go out and learn what was necessary to stay afloat and learn what was important, learn what was not important, and adapt accordingly.

0:07:16.7 DC: Well, Junior, just as a personal example, in recent days, Chat GPT and Bard have become my new learning companions. It's amazing because these tools have an ability to gather and synthesize the information much faster than I can so on certain topics in certain ways, they give me a head start. They can catapult me forward. They can do a lot of the ground work that I used to do manually myself before, and so I've started to incorporate these tools, but as you said, I had to be self-directed in figuring that out.

0:07:50.5 Junior: Well, and when you think about it, they're the worst they're ever gonna be, and they're pretty good, so.

0:07:54.8 DC: That's right.

0:07:55.3 Junior: The biggest barrier to learning today, especially in light of AI, is not access, it's motivation. Many people stop learning when they get out of school, they don't have the outside requirements or the expectations, and so they stagnate. Tim, you had a professor that said something interesting to you, right.

0:08:13.0 DC: Yeah, at Oxford, he said the most important thing you can learn in school is how to learn when you get out of school, and that was a few years ago, and I probably didn't realize how prescient that statement was, but think about it today. The most important thing you can learn in school is how to learn when you get out of school, that has never been more true than it is today.

0:08:33.6 Junior: True.

0:08:34.9 DC: And what was he talking about? He was talking about becoming an agile self-directed learner, that's what matters the most.

0:08:40.4 Junior: The great composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein said, "though I can't prove it, deep in my heart, I know that every person is born with the love of learning without exception, every infant studies it's toes and fingers and a child discovery of his or her voice must be one of the most extraordinary of life's moments." I love this quote, and somewhere along the way, this can get smothered in the curiosity we all seem to be born with, can get stifled, or we stifle it ourselves because it keeps getting punished. And that's a conversation for another day.

0:09:10.5 Junior: So what is the solution? It's to make learning completely your responsibility and avoid learning welfare like the plague. But the call to action, here it is, identify an area of your professional life that you feel would benefit from some deliberate, agile self-directed learning, and then book a 20-minute slot on your calendar within the next two days to do some intentional learning, that's it. Thank you everyone for your time and attention during today's single point lesson, we hope that this was 10 minutes well spent. See you next time.

[music]

Show Notes

What’s a Rich Text element?

The rich text element allows you to create and format headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, images, and video all in one place instead of having to add and format them individually. Just double-click and easily create content.

Static and dynamic content editing

A rich text element can be used with static or dynamic content. For static content, just drop it into any page and begin editing. For dynamic content, add a rich text field to any collection and then connect a rich text element to that field in the settings panel. Voila!

How to customize formatting for each rich text

Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.

Episode Transcript

What’s a Rich Text element?

The rich text element allows you to create and format headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, images, and video all in one place instead of having to add and format them individually. Just double-click and easily create content.

Static and dynamic content editing

A rich text element can be used with static or dynamic content. For static content, just drop it into any page and begin editing. For dynamic content, add a rich text field to any collection and then connect a rich text element to that field in the settings panel. Voila!

How to customize formatting for each rich text

Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.

Recent Episodes

The 6 Domains of Emotional Intelligence: Believe, Know, and Do

Published
February 26, 2024

What Do You Do With a Toxic Leader?

Published
February 19, 2024

The Leadership Journey Part Three: Leads the Business

Published
February 12, 2024