BE CURIOUS. ASK A LOT OF QUESTIONS.
Obviously a lot of learning comes from asking questions. But too often we don’t ask the right question. The right question is far more valuable than a great answer to the wrong question. Eric Schmidt of Google said, “We run this company on questions, not answers.” Questions and the resulting conversations help us along the path to better results.
For example, how often do confirm that the requests around “training issues” are really related to missing knowledge and skills? Do you run off and build what your client requested? Or do you ask clarifying questions to confirm that what they’re requesting will actually solve the problem? Asking a few questions may reveal better alternatives your client hasn’t considered. Who knows? Maybe, by asking the right questions everyone comes out ahead.
Don’t be shy. Don’t be afraid to ask a ‘dumb question’. Experiment with asking questions in place of always giving answers.
LOOK THROUGH A LEARNING LENS.
Think of your learning just like you think of your savings account. Just like regular, continual contributions and reviews are the best way to reach your financial goals, you should give similar attention to our learning. Learning opportunities are virtually everywhere if you look for them. So start looking at why things worked or didn’t work. Look beyond your cube, office or whatever space you are in. As Judy Unrein encouraged us to do, look beyond your normal circles to glean those nuggets of inspiration and knowledge. Once you start looking, you’ll be amazed what you’ll find.
I think this mindset can also help when dealing with others. For example, as parents, we have found that instead of punishing our son for not eating his broccoli, he reacts much better when we tell him that want him to learn how to be healthy. Although he’s not likely to be begging for them anytime soon, he is starting to get it and we’ve made a lot of progress in the vegetable department. Maybe it is the optimist in me, and seeking these “learning moments” is my way of looking for the silver lining.
SHARE AND SHARE ALIKE
Just as we are all learners, we are also all teachers. It just depends on the topic which realm we fall into. All of us have benefited from what others have shared. Shouldn’t we ‘Do unto others’ and make contributions of our own? Perhaps the one of the best reasons to do so is that you will ultimately be helping yourself and shaping your reputation. This truly is a case of “the more you give, the more you get” and today there is no reason for not sharing. Just do it. Don’t be intimidated- get started today. Post your bookmarks on Delicious or Diigo. Start a blog. Make a screencast. Pass along your favorite tweets. Work out loud.
And yes, I know you’re busy. So let me ask this question: “Are you too busy trying to stay afloat in an old workplace world to learn how to work more efficiently in the new networked world?” (1) Make the investment in yourself.
Here’s to asking, learning and sharing your way to success in 2013 and beyond!
Mike Taylor’s lifelong passion for learning and over 15 years’ experience developing and deploying a wide variety of learning strategies and technologies have positioned him to lead his organization’s blending of learning into workplace performance via traditional and emerging approaches. Currently, Mike designs and implements learning programs for American Electric Power. Mike earned his M.B.A. from Ohio University and his Master’s degree in Educational Technology at San Diego State University. Connect with him on LinkedIn or Twitter.