Learn wooden blocks

You know, and I know, that training courses aren’t where we do most of our learning. But how deliberate are we about ‘doing our learning’ the rest of the time?

This week, I completed a leadership development programme I’d been running over the past six months. Inevitably, participants wanted to know “how do we keep learning now that the formal programme has finished?”. Here’s what we came up with:

  • Get a mentor: Find a mentor from outside your day-to-day environment to provide you with perspective and guidance.
  • Be a mentor: Find someone who’s interested in learning about how you do what you do. You learn a lot by mentoring - it challenges you to unpack what you instinctively know, and see it with fresh eyes.
  • Share what you’re learning: When you learn something new, the best way to embed it is to teach it. Find an audience, share your insights, and ask for their perspectives too.
  • Write: Get a journal, write daily. This isn’t to share; it’s to help you make sense of your thoughts. Seeing your thinking on paper gives clarity and helps you shift your thinking.
  • Get a coach: Different to a mentor, a coach provides you with thinking space to understand yourself better, challenge your view of the world, think through your choices and plan next steps.
  • Try doing things differently: Tired of the way your meetings are working? Find ways to mix it up. Rotate the chair. Stand up. Walk and talk. Stay curious about what works, keep evolving.
  • Consider actions to stretch your comfort zone: The best actions are the scary ones. They invite and challenge you to do things differently.
  • Reflect and gain insight: Engage with your thoughts and make sense of them. It’s about stepping back and noticing your mindset, increasing your self-awareness and the thinking that’s guiding your actions and behaviour.
  • Explore the assumptions you’re holding, and ask how useful they are: Try some alternative assumptions for size. Working with a coach and using a journal are both powerful ways to step out of the game to some alternative insights.

Deliberately combine these learning ideas in a manner that works for you, and you will keep your learning alive.

Jennifer Baker is a professionally trained executive coach with a strategic business background