How to Be a Life-long Learner.

Can you remember making mistakes as a child?  What happened to you when you did “something wrong?” Did you learn your lesson?

I’m assuming that most of our experiences were similar.  We mess up and someone corrects us, then asks the fatal question “Did you learn your lesson?”

Questions are powerful teaching tools, and when someone asked you this question, I assume that their intention was to help you learn something.  Trying to help us learn is important, but as often is the case, there is a lot of “what” and not enough “how” in the questions.

Let’s look at two basic problems with the “did you learn your lesson?” question:

  • Typically  the question was asked only after a mistake was made inferring that there is only something to learn when we make mistakes.
  • The question may force a yes or no answer, and not ask for a description of the lesson learned.

Now, to avoid falling into the same trap as our parents: Are you learning a lesson from this discussion?  Here are some ideas to assist in life-long learning.

Be alert for learning moments all the time, not just after a mistake.  Did something go well today?  Look for the learning moment – what do we need to do in order to achieve this outcome again?

Make “the question” more open and powerful.  Suggestions could include:

  • Describe the lesson that you learned?
  • What worked?
  • Was the outcome what you preferred?
  • How will you act the next time you are in a similar situation?

The questions aren’t just for me.  They may help others.  Life-long learners are constantly evaluating themselves for learning moments.  I particularly enjoy discovering a repeatable skill that gives me a desired outcome.  I’ve found that these learning moments are often teachable to others. I reinforce my learning by teaching, and you may too.

Life brings learning experiences every moment, both large and small.  Yet there is no guarantee we will learn from them. Life-long learning comes only with reflection, and asking ourselves the right questions.

To become a life-long learner and person you were born to be, ask learning questions more often and more intentionally.

So, for today: What have you learned from this discussion? Can you describe the process of learning? Please leave a comment and we will learn together.


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