Are you a lifelong learner?

Recently, for the first time in a long time, I conducted a continuing education class in business writing. Eight participants showed up to learn how to improve their business writing skills. As I went around the room to discover why they were in the class, I was pleased to learn how many of them are lifelong learners. Only a couple of people were there because their boss or supervisor suggested they be there. I like it when people come to class because they want to be there, not because they have to be there.

The term “lifelong learner” has been around for a long time and more and more I see people in all types of jobs expanding their education. That bodes well for the workforce. In a previous blog I talked about the concept of having a workforce that’s made up of innovators in North America. We can’t be the innovators if we aren’t continually learning and expanding our minds. How about you, what was the last program or course you took? Why did you take it? How did it help you? I look forward to your comments.

Garth Roberts

Do You Every Wish You’d Said That?

I just finished watching Sir Ken Robinson’s talk at the 2010 TED presentation. You can check it out at Sir Ken said so eloquently what I’ve been ranting about for years. As a former post-secondary educator I watched hundreds of students come to our media program after they’d gone the route their parents or teachers wanted them to go. They followed, what Sir Ken calls, the linear route. Then they followed their hearts.

Traditional education is killing creativity in the bulk of the population. I had dozens of students tell me, at the post-secondary level, it was the first time they got to explore their creativity and their passion. How sad is that? To quote Sir Ken Robinson, “it’s time for revolution, not evolution.”

Leaders are needed to start the revolution and you can start it in your own business. Take the time to find out what your employees love to do. Help them explore their passions, at work or outside of work. Granted, you may lose some employees along the way when they recognize they’re in the wrong job, but you’ll be part of developing a happier person. You’ll also find a new person to fill the void who really wants to work for you. Your company’s productivity and profit will go up.

In my business writing seminars I always ask how many people love to write. If I’m lucky I get 10 – 15 % of the people saying they like writing. For the rest of the people I explain why they don’t like to write. My simple explanation, they went to school. Who taught you how to write? For the most part it was literature majors. They wanted you to write like their favourite authors. Not many of us can write like Hemmingway, Dickens or Yeats. So, for many years we were told, “that’s not correct”, “change this”, “why can’t you do better”, and many more negative tirades.

I thank Sir Ken Robinson for his presentation at TED. Let’s trust many of the leaders who were in his audience take the first steps to start the revolution in education. How about you? What can you do? Well, for starters, forward the link to Sir Ken Robinson’s presentation to your list, particularly to those people involved in education.

Garth Roberts