The Art of Continual Learning

The Western culture of start-ups by the youth, which sprung up in the States in the 1980s, is finally making an impact on the millennials closer home in India.  However, the ideology behind the drive that success comes to those who simply leap off into the unknown is a mistaken one as the crucial element of continual learning gets chucked out somewhere in the melee.

If you spend time with some of the world’s greatest CEOs you would be awed by their exhaustive array of knowledge on how to actually run an organization – something which is simply not possible to imbibe when you have just passed out of IIM or IIT.

Therein lies the significance of continual learning – a topic which most everyone has come across but only few give due consideration.

Personally, I’ve benefitted tremendously from the ‘five-hour rule’, a practice based on the habits of Benjamin Franklin. Simply put, it means taking out one hour during each weekday for ‘deliberate learning’ by building up your archive of knowledge and skills. That adds up to five hours every week of the year. By ‘deliberate’ I mean you must make it a rule, even if it means carving out such time at the cost of more pressing tasks. You must schedule such time in advance in your calendar else you might risk losing this one hour to seemingly urgent tasks or people’s requests, be it for business or social reasons.

Now, the three mantras for doing so are becoming a prolific reader, to ruminate, and explore.

Have you ever wondered why so many of the business greats are almost addictive readers? That’s because reading forms one of the cornerstones of continuous learning. Don’t just limit yourself to reading what’s strictly related only to your line of profession or business. Delve into a plethora of topics to expand your horizons and unlock a potential opportunity! Also explore topics that are likely to get relevant to your line of work.

Follow up on your reading by pondering over what all you read, and occasionally taking notes so that you process the knowledge and can brainstorm any ideas which spring to your mind with a close friend or associate.

Finally, experiment. Simply reading and ruminating would not kick-start a potential great idea or concept for self or business improvement. For this, be ready to take calculated risks and encourage your teams to brainstorm and implement new ideas often.

The five-hour rule works for me. I’d recommend you try it, and share your experiences.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.