I’m always under impressed with today’s “Learning Professional” who struts around claiming to be a “Continual Learner” and yet asked what they have learned recently they go blank. How can you be a continual learner if you can’t remember learning anything lately?
I have a dear friend that has been in the learning profession much longer then I have been, and the key to this statement is that she retired from full-time work 5 years ago. She is the consummate continual learner, and you only need to talk with her for 15 minutes or read any email she sends you to find out what she has experienced or learned. And, she never needs any prompting either.
She reads, attends workshops, and engages in numerous online environments. The key to these activities she will tell you “is to always walk away with a take-a-way.” She forces herself to do this by keeping a Learning Journal. Along with being a person who has always kept a diary/journal for thoughts and reactions to life, she has taken to keeping a separate log of what she has learned, and wait, how she could apply it to her life.
I wish I had this kind of discipline, but I am honest enough with myself that I don’t. I journal thoughts in my Franklin Planner all the time, and buried in there within the sentences I might have a nugget or two of what I’ve learned, but I have not made it to the Yoda-Level of my friend’s passion for tracking my learning.
If keeping this kind of learning journal is too much to ask of yourself, and yet you manage a learning function, I would suggest you begin by tracking the learning that is happening in your organization. At least weekly, track what the employees have learned. If you didn’t run any workshops, don’t assume learning has not happened, but at the same time don’t take credit for running a learning organization just quite yet.
Until we can track our individual learning, and what our staff and employees are learning, our imaginations will be bigger than the reality. If you really are a continual learner, prove it. If you really manage a learning organization, be prepared to prove that too!