Make Learning Lifelong

Posted by: on October 9th, 2020

I have a distinct memory, and I bet you do too, of a time when I absorbed, like a sponge, new information and ways of doing things. I remember it happening, in particular, in a new job where there was a heightened sense of awareness of everything and everyone around me. I also remember it happening when I traveled to foreign places. Yes, with these experiences came stress and sometimes distress because I was in a mode of discerning what was important to pay attention to and sometimes, I had to learn the hard way. But learning and resilience travel together and excelling at one makes the other possible.

We know that lifelong learning is critical for our mental well-being and as it turns out, it is also critical for our economic well-being. Some of us are good at pushing through walls that keep us from new learning experiences, others resist or feel stuck. When I look at the despair that rattles our country today, I see people who are trying to break walls down and are frustrated at the attempt, and others who feel despair from the lack of walls to push.

As automation, AI, and new job models reconfigure the business world, lifelong learning has become accepted as an economic imperativeEighty percent of CEOs now believe the need for new skills is their biggest business challenge. For employees, research now shows that opportunities for development have become the second most important factor in workplace happiness (after the nature of the work itself).

So here is where I am going with this. Learning needs to be a micro and macro strategy in our lives in order to push beyond the walls that divide us. Where are we pushing walls in our own personal lives and professional development? What about in our organizations? And perhaps most importantly in our national policies where we can bring together community leaders, educators, business groups and elected officials and figure out how to push the proverbial wall and become leaders of learning?

And finally, as the stress mounts in our political sphere, my feeling and belief is that if we can bring learning into the conversation, we can shift the conversations away from the walls that divide us and toward what we can learn, together.

…let your aim be to come at truth, not to conquer your opponent. So you never shall be at a loss in losing the argument, and gaining a new discovery.”  – Arthur Martine

About Nancy J. Hess

I help leaders pioneer extraordinary change through high engagement and whole systems approaches that focus on HR and People.