Managing Your Learning Curve

For the past few decades, the economic landscape has changed with the automation of many manufacturing processes. Online shopping, e books and internet banking has led to the closing of many high street shops/bookshops. Banks have cut down their number of retail outlets. Jobs such as running a printing press and shorthand are obsolete. Concepts such as digital marketing, tech entrepreneurship have emerged and their corresponding skills set are now “in demand”.

To survive in this new world, you cannot possibly be expected to have all the skills and knowledge needed throughout your entire career. Most people have had to adapt to the continuous change in their job requirements over the years. For one to have a successful career, you need to have retained the love of learning and exploration. Progress depends on new ideas and challenging the status quo. Having a creative and courageous mindset and being resilient when making mistakes are important. The ability to accept the unknown and to remember that we always have a choice of turning back and choose another route facilitates your learning curve. Being in touch your emotions allows you to check in with yourself and understand what your learning style is. Learning by doing is one approach. Mind mapping or listening to podcasts are other strategies used for learning.

As part of a team, you can leverage the collective wisdom of the team for your professional development. It is sometimes a good way to fast track your learning curve as each team member can contribute to the pool of knowledge and skills. This is why it is critical to acquire the skill to work within teams. A group of people with different skills set, personality types and life experiences working together allows for divergent thinking – generating as many solutions as possible.

However, not everyone enjoys working in teams and it takes a lot of hard work to be a great team player.  Groups of people may start as equals at first. Over time, a drift towards inequality of participation emerges with people segmented into roles and ranks: leader, moderator, chronic objector, advancing ideas, etc. Collaborative skills can be challenging to acquire for a number of people due to the nature of their personalities. Two most well known examples are

  • For some people, winning at all costs is what matters. Focusing on winning dampens creativity as trust, safety and fairness is not part of the equation. They are called “sociopaths”.They seek to dominate others and they fail to learn by experience.  Sociopaths are unable to change as they don’t see the need to and they tend to have poor judgement of wrongdoing.
  • People with Asperger Syndrome also have persistent difficulties with social interaction and communication. They process information differently from the “mainstream”. There are a number of strategies that they can use to communicate better. Contrary to a sociopath, someone with Asperger Syndrome can add huge value to a team if they are aware of their personality and have received training to make up for their lack of social skills.

Your learning curve can be fun if you are able to continuously fuel your internal motivation. For example: the energetic desire to make a great contribution or to make the most of what is given to you can facilitate your professional development.

This post has been inspired from the book: “A Bigger Prize” by Margaret Hefferman.

About the Author

I work with business owners to help them reinforce their business sustainability . I coach and train professionals working in an international environment or being part of a multinational team.

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