7 ways to make you a better learner
Lavinia Mehedintu, the co-founder at Offbeat, offered insightful ideas about becoming a powerful learner. It is core to our mission, and we explore our perspective in detail here.
Why rely on a teacher, coach, or mentor when you could develop yourself? There’s no need to drag yourself on zoom or into a classroom when you can apply the strategies of a great learner for yourself.
Here are 7 ways you can be a better learner starting right now!
1. Be curious and courageous.
A top learning superpower is the art of being curious. Going through life with a mind that asks questions catapults you into the world of the most powerful learners. You can begin by asking “why” questions, getting to the bottom of how things work and the choices others have made. You can kick it up a gear by starting that question with “What if…” and experimenting with possibilities.
Learning requires courage. You must feel uncomfortable if you want to get better at something. When you start to learn anything, you are going to be terrible. To be good, you are going to have to do it anyway. If you are afraid of how this makes you feel, it means it matters a lot to you. Walk towards that fear.
2. Love feedback and failure in equal measure.
Feedback is the food of champions. If you ask any elite sportsperson how they have reached the top ranks of their specialism, expert coaching has helped drive them forward. It is not that they need to continue to be told how to do the sport; they grow from hearing where they could be better and where they are doing well. Actively seeking out this feedback will drive forward learning.
While we can learn to enjoy feedback, it takes much practice to love failure – even though it is the same opportunity being served. It doesn’t mean purposely getting things wrong and jumping with joy. It is about seeing a loss as a win because you were allowed to grow. When you get something wrong, it reveals a misunderstanding or something that requires development. This is a fantastic gift, as it uncovers the potential to be more!
3. Remember to practice.
Why does a great pianist like Lang Lang still practice the piano? As James Clear tells us in the book Atomic Habits, the greatest is showing up daily to honour what defines us, even when we don’t feel good at it. If we want to live the new behaviours we are learning, we must show up daily and practice those behaviours.
4. Increase your self-awareness
Authentic learning begins with yourself. Appreciating where you are now and where you want to be is essential in setting up a learning pathway. Clarity on what you want to develop and where this will take you gives your learning relevance. It’s ok to be surprised sometimes about the world, though knowing what’s in it all for you motivates you.
5. Build in moments to reflect.
Reflection turns action into experience and expertise. We may have worked a job for ten years, but it does not necessarily mean we have ten years of experience. You can repeat the same practice every day and make no improvements. Alternatively, each time you experience a day at work, you can reflect on what helped and didn’t and adapt a new practice for tomorrow. Only then are you experienced and becoming an expert in your trade.
6. Embrace the wisdom of the crowd.
Billions of humans have shared a common experience with you through the ages. It is unlikely that any dilemma you face is original. One of the biggest comforts in the world is that someone somewhere feels the same and has experienced the same. Therefore, reaching out to your network and posing a question or sharing your problem will likely result in many stories of how they have dealt with what you are dealing with.
7. Own the questions.
Formal education is different to learning. The facilitator (teacher, trainer, coach, mentor) owns the questions in formal education settings. Formulating what, why, when, who, where, how and what-if questions are 95% of the power of the learner. Answering them offers 5% learning. Being the person that shapes the questions makes you the most talented learner of the bunch.
Learning to be a learner is the most powerful way of driving yourself towards your purpose. You know yourself best and where you want to get to, and getting skilled in taking the journey puts you in charge. Why wouldn’t you want that?