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July 25, 2012

Be a Lifelong Learner.

Wikicommons: Public Domain

Einstein said having knowledge wasn’t as important as knowing where to find it.

The rate of change makes what you know today less important than how quickly you learn. Challenge yourself to learn one new thing each day.

Many years ago I read A Course in Miracles and was struck by the words that at any point in life, “You can choose love or the lesson.” So much understanding in my life has resulted from choosing the lesson, painful though it often is, instead of the love. Struggling to change another person or fighting to promote my agenda instead of accepting and understanding another view always resulted in frustration and increased resistance no matter how good my ideas or how persistent my effort.

Learning from repeatedly banging your head on the wall of other opinions, values and biases is painful, but it’s one way we learn the lesson of acceptance. Accepting the world and other people as they are and seeking to understand them before we seek to be understood is choosing the love rather than the lesson, but many of us struggle every day to get there. In fact, many people believe we only learn from our failures, not from our successes, and that each time we try and fail there is a learning opportunity present if we choose it.

A commitment to lifelong learning is fundamental to becoming the person we are meant to be and to living our own best lives.

Learning applies to every area of our daily lives: new information, technology, skills, comprehension. Long before the internet permeated my daily life, books were my source of continuing learning and inspiration. Before that, other people were my teachers. And even before that my parents were my source of learning. All of these—technology, books, people—continue to be sources of daily learning for me.

My options for learning have expanded, and I now think of my brain as needing daily exercise just as the rest of my body does. Even something like a “word a day” calendar represents an opportunity for that daily “flexing” of the mind muscle that keeps us growing and moving forward .

So, if you’re a person who thinks, “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” ask yourself when you became old? Was it when you stopped growing? Or when you stopped learning? Or when you stopped expecting more from yourself?

Growing older is unavoidable, but letting your mind grow old and inactive is a choice. Challenge yourself to learn something new every day, by reading, listening, or daring to do something you haven’t done before. Keep your mind young and vital and watch how your life is enriched by the learning you invite into your days.

Read the other articles in this series:

Using Respect to Create a Mindful Business.

The Importance of Empathy in Business.

The Importance of Listening.

The Importance of Persistence & Patience.

Why We Need to Avoid Rationalization.

The Importance of Embracing Change.

Editor: Lynn Hasselberger

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