Why the Best Business people Are Continuous Learners

Apr 2, 2020 3:42:30 PM

If you are working from home or forced to stay at home, then take this opportunity to learn.

For the past decade, online learning has become mainstream and, due to the current crisis, many learning institutions are now offering low, or free access to valuable learning opportunities.

You can try almost anything online - from a short course on using Microsoft Excel to a Business MBA.

A few things to get you on the right track:

1. Develop a mindset that you will be a continuous learner.
2. Understand your learning style - VAK (Visual, Auditory, and Kinesthetic - Tactile).
3. Plan how learning will help you in the short and long term.
4. Seek out a reputable learning provider.

Developing the continuous learner mindset

When we leave school and move on to employment, years of rote learning and boring lectures are a thing of the past, right?

Not necessarily - just because you did not fare well, or perhaps like, your school years does not mean you have to close the door to future learning.

The problem with “traditional” class-based learning is that the one-size-fits-all model doesn’t work for all of us. This type of structured learning, combined with the usual angst of growing up, means school may not be seen as a positive and productive experience and often, and quite unfortunately, many entrepreneurial people see themselves as school dropouts or failed learners.

You probably remember your mother telling you that your brain is a muscle you need to exercise, and this, like much of your mother’s advice, was spot on, so it is important to keep your mind and brain active and engaged. This not only helps expand your view of the world but better prepares you for change, an increasing constant in our globalised business world.

When we start or manage a business, there are so many tasks we are responsible for and while you don’t have to be an expert at everything, a small bit of knowledge is vital. We can only improve that knowledge by learning from others.

Understand your learning style - VAK

It helps to understand how you process information - this is not some dynamic psychometric
personality trait, but simply how you prefer to learn.

From an adult education perspective, we refer to the Visual, Auditory or Kinaesthetic learner system referred to as VAK – and yes, there is a variance on this. VAK allows you to take on information by seeing, hearing/speaking, or by doing.

Standard classroom formats often have a combination of a PowerPoint (Visual), a presenter talking to the group (Auditory), workbooks and hands-on demonstrations (Kinaesthetic) to meet the learning needs of the participant majority.

By example, tradespeople who work with their hands, such as engineers, carpenters and plumbers, are more likely to be highly kinaesthetic. So, it would be of little use putting them in front of a presenter for a full-day verbal lecture on the latest pipe-threading technology - they would be bored out of their minds and way outside their comfort zone. It’s better to create a real-world example of what you are trying to teach, allowing them to physically interact with props, tools and products while being instructed on the learning content.

There are plenty of online tests you can take to determine your learning preference - go to
www.businessballs.com and search for the “VAK Learning Styles Self-assessment”.

Plan what learning will help you in the short and long term

If you have employees, you should have a learning plan in place. One of the most rewarding and motivational experiences they can get from an employer is an opportunity to advance their
knowledge and, with that, potential earning prospects.

If you are the business owner, you should do the same for yourself, whether you are learning how to improve time management, a technical how-to with plant and machinery, upskilling on digital platforms, or business learning such as management, HR, leadership or finance.

Many may find the prospect of undertaking learning overwhelming. But, if you choose things that are relevant to your current role, they will improve your ability to function and, ultimately, make life easier and better.

Just start somewhere, take small steps and set goals.

Seek out a reputable learning provider

A great in-road to learning is to read blogs, watch webinars or subscribe to the TEDx videos available on YouTube.

Be aware though that much of this, including this blog, are opinions and not necessarily
researched and peer-reviewed content. This means credibility and authenticity may be questionable.

There are plenty of quality New Zealand and overseas learning providers. Look at what reviews say about them and ask questions about course access and any charges that may apply.

New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA)-accredited training courses are usually well vetted to meet the NZQA delivery standards and can lead to a recognised qualification. Today’s school kids are well versed on NZQA levels and standards.

Lots of small courses adding up to a larger qualification is often referred to as Microlearning.

Another reputable learning stream is via universities, where you can find anything from short courses to Diplomas and beyond. Be aware that these tend to come with a price tag, require specific exam dates and plenty of homework, so choose your learning provider well.

Undertaking a learning programme will contribute to your work endeavours, more personal knowledge, better decision-making and a healthier brain.