No matter what level of education you have, if you want to succeed, you need to keep on learning.
The information available worldwide doubles every few years, and technology—especially information technology—is part of virtually every workplace. As a result, employers value knowledgeable employees who are committed to lifelong learning.
Being a successful learner starts with having a positive attitude towards learning
A positive attitude lets you relax, remember, focus and absorb information as you learn. You’re ready to welcome new experiences and recognize many different kinds of learning opportunities. And when you can see opportunities, hope increases.
Take Eileen, for example. Eileen has recently enrolled in college, even though it's been 20 years since she wrote a paper or studied for an exam. However, in the 15 years that she has stayed home to raise her children, Eileen has mastered stress and time management skills, teamwork skills, budgeting skills and more. She has developed online skills, read a lot, chaired community committees and coached several soccer teams. Based on her experience, she knows she can polish up her report writing and study skills and do well in her program.
The importance of a positive attitude: an employer's story
"Education, experience, knowledge, and personal compatibility are factors our company takes into account when we hire tradespeople, construction workers, and support staff," says one manager at an Alberta utilities company.
"An individual with good personal skills can always learn the technical side of the job. The employees who stand out the most have great attitudes toward the company, are comfortable working with minimal supervision, are safety conscious, and are full of energy."
Do you stay open to learning opportunities? Do you believe that you’re able to learn new things?
Use this exercise to explore your attitudes and beliefs about learning. Put a check mark beside the statements that are true for you:
- I believe lifelong learning will help me achieve my goals.
- I'm willing to make mistakes and learn from them.
- I'm aware that learning opportunities are all around me.
- I take charge of my own learning. I use every opportunity I have to learn something new.
- I'm willing and eager to learn.
- I know what skills and knowledge I need or want to learn.
- I know where to find out about formal learning opportunities through mentors, co–workers, friends, supervisors, family members and my own research.
- I set new learning goals regularly.
How many did you score out of 8 possible check marks? Take a close look at the statements you didn't check off. Think about how these attitudes could be affecting your success as a learner.
For each statement that you didn't check off, think of 2 steps that you could take right now to build a positive learning attitude in this area. For example, if you don't know what skills and knowledge you need to learn, how can you find out? If you're working, could you ask your supervisor? If you're not working, could you talk to a career advisor or find the information online or in a book or magazine?
Formal classroom learning can be important and valuable, but it's only one of many learning opportunities that are open to you. You can learn:
- At work
- On your own
- From mentors and role models
- From co–workers and friends
- Online by using search engines, following blogs, downloading podcasts, taking a class, etc.
- Through magazines, journals, newspapers, videos, broadcasts
- By volunteering
- By teaching others what you know, which helps you improve your skills and insight
- Through seminars, workshops and courses
- By attending classes at an educational institution, in person or online
More than ever, learning is for life. All kinds of learning opportunities are just a “click” or a conversation away. A positive attitude and a belief in your ability to keep learning will help you enjoy the process and discover many opportunities along the way.