The Challenge of Self-Improvement: Learning Opportunities

“You learn something every day if you pay attention.” – Ray LeBlond

Learning opportunities present themselves everywhere.  We just need to heed them.  I believe that learning is what makes you adaptable, which is why I am a huge proponent of continuous improvement and growth.  And even though I try to seize as many learning opportunities as possible, I know that even I have experiences that are wasted.

There is no right or wrong way to learn.  We all learn in different ways, depending on how the mind works.  This Center for Creative Leadership podcast – Reflection for Resilience – articulates the way I learn as an INTJ personality type.  For me, learning does not result directly from the experience itself, but from the conscious effort to gain from it.  “Learning comes from the reflecting on the doing”.

The podcast outlines three steps to the learning process:

  1. Objectively review the situation.   These are the facts – who, what, when, and where.  Who were the people involved?  What transpired?  When and where did this occur?  What was the outcome of the event.
  2. Objectively review your reaction.  How did the event make you feel?  What went through your mind?  Were you uncomfortable with any part of it?  Why did you act the way you did?  Why did you say what you said?  What was your overall reaction to the event and its outcome.
  3. Contemplate.  How do you think you handled the situation?  Do you recognize any patterns in your feelings and thoughts?  What would you do differently?  Did you live up to your values and standards?  Were you the person you aspire to be in that situation?

I would like to add another step to this list:

Take advantage of the learning opportunity, if you recognized one in Step 3.  Act. If you decide that you did not handle the situation in the best possible way, do something about it. Depending on what conclusion you came to in Step 3, you may need to take a class, get some personal coaching, reach out to the other party, try be more cognizant about your reactions in the future, etc.  Change is rooted in action.  If after pondering the situation you decided that you want to handle things differently next time, take advantage of your learning opportunity and actually learn.

How do you learn?  It’s the most adapted that survive, not the strongest.

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