You may have been on the same job for a number of years to conclude that you probably know-it-all. But, this is exactly the kind of attitude that will get you into trouble one day.
Doing the job is one thing, excelling on it or exceeding customers’ expectations is another. Meeting the mark nowadays is not good enough, as complacency could kill you sooner or later.
In order to keep ourselves relevant and to contribute effectively, we must develop new ways of enhancing our learning ability.
Given that we must multi-task and learn so many things nowadays, the concern is that we may end up overloading our brains and suffer from burnout.
Well, fret not. There is always a solution. For starters, our bodies require regular exercise and nourishment. Same goes for our brains.
First and foremost, we can nourish and exercise our minds through learning, and that basically means stepping out of one’s comfort zone.
1. Seek Feedback On Your Completed Task or Assignment
This is not to be underestimated or overlooked. When you have performed or completed a task, don’t just treat it as ‘done’. Actively seek feedback. For a start, do not be defensive as that will put people off.
Also seek frank feedback, not sanitized comments. Do remember to thank people for their inputs and then settle down and consider that feedback carefully.
Positive feedback is an affirmation of what you have been doing. But it is negative feedback that you need to take note of.
You will be surprised at what you can discover from an “outsider’s” viewpoint, or even uncover a blind spot or gap which you didn’t notice earlier. There is always room for improvement.
2. Adopt A Different Perspective
This is tantamount to challenging the status quo. No, we are not asking you to change for the sake of changing. But rather to question the assumptions in a particular task or initiative you are undertaking.
For instance, one of my colleagues always felt stressed as he was the chairperson of a complex project meeting. He held on to the assumption that he had to be the subject matter expert in order to be seen as credible.
After getting some advice, he decided to change his perspective and assumed the role of a facilitator instead, tapping on the expertise of the other members.
That actually led to a more productive meeting where ideas flowed freely. It also led to better working relationships within the team. Clearly, this is a win-win outcome.
3. Make Connections In The Things You Do Or Learn
Simply put, we should not learn or do things in a silo mentality. Whatever the skill sets that are applicable in one task or situation could also be related or relevant in another. Learn to see the connections.
By making the connections, our work becomes more manageable as well as more meaningful.
For instance, you could have learned tips about handling difficult customers but you can certainly apply that in a project setting where you have some difficult stakeholders, who in a way are also your internal customers.
From another angle, try disseminating a task into different components and ask yourself how those components might affect the processes and outcomes of other tasks which you are handling.
Seeing the links will facilitate the way that one manages several tasks and projects at one go, using a holistic approach.
4. Practice Reflection
Now this technique is usually practiced in courses.
Reflection allows us to take a step back and take stock not only of what has been learned but also how we may want to “arrange” the things we’ve learned so that it can be internalized within us.
Likewise, we can practice reflection at the workplace and come up with better business solutions such as using online forms for annual staff declarations instead of manual forms, and etc.
By using these 4 techniques, we become better learners without incurring the risk of overloading our brains.
On a final note, we currently utilize only about 10% of our cerebral capacity. Don’t underestimate that figure as it has enabled us to become the predominant life form on Earth.
Our learning capacity is truly boundless and it is this incessant ability to learn that will continue to bring us to new heights.