Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Be ready and willing to learn


The most important and effective type of learning is one that is self-motivated. The knowledge and skills you acquire through education by your choice and effort are yours for life. Nobody can steal them from you. The mastery of a skill or a subject and the wisdom to use it are exquisitely satisfying. Learning is the continuous process of becoming who you are. Every time you learn something new, you change and grow as a person. From your birth to your death, you learn countless skills which you use and perform daily and automatically. You learn to walk, to talk, to read, to think critically, to get along with other people, to be creative, to cook, to drive and to run a business. Learning to make decisions and solve problems are competencies you need to develop throughout your life. Your effectiveness as a human being and your stature as a person have a direct relationship on the number of skills you have mastered and that you use daily in your job and in your life.
The key to work in the future and to remain marketable will be up-to-date skills, knowledge and information. In the next decade, we are going to be swamped by the tidal wave of technology. Nearly half the jobs created will require post-secondary education and computer literacy. For most people just to get a job they want will require between 15 to 20 years of formal education. By contrast, the number of jobs requiring less than a high school education is rapidly declining. Everybody understands the importance of education, training and skill development. If you want to have a good paying job and improve your standard of living, you need to be ready and willing to learn and adapt to the reality of the marketplace. Take full responsibility to seek every opportunity to further your education, to strengthen your areas of weakness through appropriate training and to focus your energy on marketable skills.
The admission of your ignorance is the first step in improving your education. Pretending to have knowledge of a subject is far worse than admitting your ignorance and being willing to learn it. Don't hesitate to ask questions even at the risk of revealing your ignorance. It's the best and most direct way of learning and growing. Always start by revealing to your teacher at what level of knowledge or skill you are at. If you want to learn how to use the computer or how to access the internet, admit your ignorance or let your teacher know what level you are at. It is impossible to bypass and shortcut the learning process. Many people are tempted to seek a shortcut to the learning process. Most of the time, this will result in frustration and confusion. If you are just starting to play tennis, it makes no sense for you to start lessons at the advanced level right away. In any area of self-improvement, you have to be willing to take one step at a time, be patient and put in the necessary effort and discipline.
If you did not have, or missed the opportunity for, a good education, you can still learn many things and skills you need to have a meaningful and productive life. Apart from the formal education system, you should also be ready and willing to learn from everyone and anyone. In any interaction, the other person forms part of your current learning experience and vice versa. When you are truly ready the teachers will appear. Reach out and find the right people with the right resources to help you. Prepare yourself and understand that there is no shortcut in the learning process. There is always some room for new input and for improvement. Every person you encounter in your lifetime has the potential to teach you something. If your outlook on life is positive, you will have a high level of readiness to learn and to grow. As a student you know that everyone is in some way your teacher and has something to offer you. Once you are ready and willing, you will find teachers everywhere. A wise teacher leads you to the threshold of your own mind and potential.
If you come upon something which or someone who could show you a better way to live, be ready and willing to learn. Your teacher might be a book, a motivational tape, a magazine article, a friend, a religious leader, a child, a thought that is there accidentally at the right time and place. Sometimes you have to seek the teachers and the resources too. Some of these resources include further education such as vocational courses, workshops, seminars, colleges or universities. You can also acquire and develop new, complex social skills by studying successful role models. It helps to observe and learn from others who are doing what you would like to do or who have qualities that you desire. Be humble so that you can accept and acquire the wisdom and understanding of others. Learn to listen, to evaluate and to use the wisdom, experience and expertise of others. Try to break up complicated concepts and problems into simpler units that you can understand and master. Realize that everyone had to learn from someone else.

Extract from my book: Become your best.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Begin with the end result in mind


Stephen Covey talked about beginning with the end result in his bestselling book: Seven habits of highly effective people. Here is a practical and powerful way of how you can envision your own successful end result in your mind, and let it guide you to a purposeful and fulfilled life.

If you had your life to live over again what would you do differently? What do you think you could do about it? What is the biggest mistake you have made so far? What would you change? These are questions you can ask yourself when you want to reexamine yourself in terms of your life situation. Be fair and honest, as fair with yourself as you would be with somebody else. What is your purpose and goals in life? This is a fundamental question that most people ask themselves at one time or another. If you think I have the answer for you, you are wrong. You have the answer. We all have the answer within each one of us. For those of you who have not yet found your purpose in life, I can guide you in your search for it by beginning with the end result in mind.
To begin with the end result in mind means you need to have a clear and precise understanding of your destination. Find a quiet place where you can relax, be alone and uninterrupted when you are concentrating on the following exercise. You need a piece of paper to write your honest impressions, feelings and visualizations. Take your time to do this exercise. If you are impatient to read this book then go ahead but come back to this exercise and give it the time and consideration it deserves.

Exercise Visualize yourself at your own funeral after a long, happy and fulfilled life. Assume that you have lived your life to your full potential.
Your family, friends and colleagues have come to honour you, to express feelings of love and appreciation for your life.
Think deeply and write down the epitaphs and eulogies you would like each of the following speakers to say about you and your life:

1. Members of your immediate family: your spouse, children and siblings.

2. One of your best friends.

3. A colleague or member of your profession.

4. A member of your church and/or community.

Try to imagine what these people would say about you in your various roles. What would you be remembered for? How did you touch and influence their lives? What contributions did you make to your family, friends, profession and community? Write down what you would like to be said of you at the end of your life.
You can repeat this exercise until you are pretty sure that you have identified your inner sources of identity such as beliefs, values and primary characteristics. This exercise will help you identify the core values that are most important to you, for example: happiness, love, good health, honesty, peace of mind, spirituality, gratitude, simplicity, beauty, respect, integrity, joy, trust, understanding, fairness, hard work, recognition, professionalism, service to others and caring relationships. Aside from making you face your own mortality, this exercise guides you in discovering your roles and goals in life. It is necessary to reassess your different roles in life as time goes on in order to take into account your personal sense of balance and significant emotional events. Regular self-examination forms part of life's journey and plays a major role in awareness, insight and wisdom.

Extract from my book: Become your best.