Author, Keynote Speaker & Managing Partner of Flame Centre | Future Skills Institute
Updated 3 Apr 2023
How to cultivate your learning agility?
So you want to learn a skill? What do you do?
Make a resolution to learn it? Great, then what?
Google about it or read an article? That’s better than just making a resolution, you get some ideas on the topic, but then what?
Sign up for a course? Excellent! Kudos to you for your commitment. You will have foundational knowledge or an overview on the topic, some tools and practice to feel confident. But then what?
Are you seeing the issue?
The biggest problems in learning are:
We have no time! We are busy with work and personal lives.
We lose focus. Social media, news, work demands or just life in general pull us away.
We don’t apply our learning enough for learning to stick.
So before we know it, the resolution to learn fizzles off. The learning from the articles or YouTube videos or the program evaporates. In the end, the time and resources invested in learning is wasted. Six months later we find ourselves in the same spot as before.
4 Proven Learning Strategies
So here are 4 proven learning strategies gleaned from my research interviewing agile learners who become successful leaders, app developers, data scientists, researchers and more.
1. Leverage your motivation at its highest
When we are triggered to learn a skill, our motivation at that point is at its highest. Use it to set up the structure for your learning, so you continue to learn even when the motivation wanes.
2. Create a playground to use what you’re learning
For example, make it part of your work to use this skill. If it’s not currently part of your work scope, speak to your manager about it, e.g., find a project or join a task force. Make it voluntary work or get into a challenge. For example, a dancer learning saxophone took the leap to sign up for a music performance 6 months later. You can imagine, he really practised! By creating a playground to use the skill, you will have to necessarily learn to succeed!
3. Join a community, so your learning is continuous over time
Articles and programs tend to be episodic. Learning happens in layers over time. For example, join a community that has webinars or meetings once a month. You will learn different aspects of the topic or skill. A community also gives you access to other like-minded people, experts and role models to consult.
4. Set up feedback structures
By knowing how we are doing as we practise new skills, we are encouraged when we do well or we get early data points to make tweaks. Without knowing how we are doing, the focus on learning wanes. Tell your manager or colleague or family member about the skill you are learning. Ask them to observe you and tell you directly what is working and what to tweak.
When learning motivation is highest, create structures to keep your learning wheel spinning towards mastery. After you have created your playground, joined a community and set up feedback structures, attending courses or accessing resources on Google can fit nicely into your overall learning strategy. You will be amazed you become a different person in 6 months' time!
Skill Mastery in Four Steps by Dr Wendy Tan.
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