“Anything that doesn’t grow, dies. Anything that doesn’t contribute, gets eliminated. That’s evolution. If that’s true of the universe, it’s probably true of your life.”
– Jayson Gaignard
I believe learning will always be an essential part of life – no matter who you are or how old you are, you should never stop learning. It’s because of my belief in the importance of learning and personal growth that I decided to get a degree and learn the skills I have. It is the reason why all people choose further education, isn’t it?
Self-learning is about spending your free time applying what you know, gaining experience, going more in-depth for more information and personal growth. People interested in self-learning typically spend their time watching videos, reading up on the internet, buying books and scouting for any information they can find about whatever it is that sparks their interest.
The term for this is autodidacticism.
“When you stop growing, you start dying.”
– William S. Burroughs
Starting with self-learning and using your brain
Author and speaker Tony Robbins talks about having a hunger for growing and learning. Most successful people in life who have surpassed others are typically those with the greatest appetite for knowledge.
So, what does it mean to have this ‘hunger’?
It means that you should not only be curious about something or have a great idea, like so many people, do. It’s about having the drive to want to see this idea happen.
Author Scott Belsky writes: “It’s not about ideas, it’s about making ideas happen”. He says that “young creative minds don’t need more ideas, they need to take more responsibility
We all occupy our minds with something, whether it’s a hobby, personal interests, struggles, or religious beliefs to name but a few. When we find ourselves faced with a problem in need of a solution, the odds are that someone has already hacked it somehow, and you will be able to learn from them.
You can easily find topics on the internet or books that resonate with your interests.
However, what if there isn’t a solution discovered for your questions or problems? What if you find yourself face to face with a never before
Using this hunger for the benefit of others
There are two benefits to finding answers to your questions and problems. Firstly, it will speed up your own growth even more. Secondly, showing or teaching others what you have learnt will also test how much you truly understand
It will instil in you a valuable sense of purpose.
Some people learn things for personal benefit, but some do it for others. The truth is you will always benefit from sharing your knowledge and wisdom with others.
I think that for personal growth, the most important characteristics for a person to learn about and focus on is humility and compassion. Ultimately, we don’t live for ourselves in isolation – other people always see us.
Living and applying these two characteristics even a little in our daily interactions with others will already have an impact because people will be more open to hearing what we have to say.
“Desire without knowledge is not good, how much more will hasty feet miss the way.”
– King Solomon
The value of Obi-Wan Kenobi
Star Wars fans will understand this: Luke Skywalker was a natural with the lightsaber. I mean, the force was strong with that one, right? But he still needed Obi-Wan Kenobi to show him around even though he was such a natural.
I believe that hunger for learning is one of the strongest attributes that can propel an individual. Spending lots of time and energy on self-experimentation to grow and develop is possible without having to spend too much, or any money. Maybe you’re a natural like Luke Skywalker.
However, finding someone, your own Obi-Wan, who can guide and assist you will help you focus your energy a little more. This approach may implicate some costs, but the return on investment would be so much more significant.
For the non-Star Wars fans, I’ll explain it like this: Imagine yourself going fishing. You have a fishing rod and you’re sitting next to the water every day reeling in fish one at a time and then selling it at the end of the day. You have a goal to save up enough money for a boat and a net that will quadruple your daily income, but it’s going slow because you also have to use the catch to survive every day.
Finding a coach is like going to a friend and borrowing money to buy the net and boat now because it will help you reach your goal faster than you would have if you had to do it on your own.
A coach who assists you will help you attain your goal faster. They help you with the decisions you need to make, developing plans or equipping yourself with tools or skills that may have taken you years to learn on your own.
How to find a coach
You can hire someone’s services in person, but this isn’t always necessary. I’ve mentioned that you can learn from online coaches and teachers all over the internet. I’ve been doing this for a lot of different subjects for many years and for me it’s a lot of fun.
Online coaches do, however, have a more general approach whereas someone you hire will focus on your specific needs.If you want to find a couch you can start by asking yourself: who inspires me?
As I said, there could be entire websites out there that will address your point of interest – simply take a minute to search. The chances are that the coaches, writers or speakers you find have achieved many of the same things you want to obtain, making them an excellent option to follow on social media or subscribe to their email newsletters.
Reading books and biographies are sometimes excellent resources to refer back to because of timeless truths that will always be there for you. The video below will explain it very well.
Manage the herd
To prevent your inbox from becoming an email dumping ground, start with one person you want to follow. If you can find another person, go for that one too, especially if they approach the subject from different angles.
However, you should beware of information overload. One mistake I made, and still get trapped in sometimes, was to try to follow almost every person that I could find who wrote about a topic that interested me. It eventually reached the point of confusion and caused me to get sidetracked and distracted.
How I learned to avoid this was to look at the heading or name of a site, article or book. If it interests me, I’ll save it to read later if I have the time. There are great browser extensions, such as Evernote Web Clipper or Google Keep that can help you save these sites.
When ‘later’ does come, I can easily judge whether it is still something worth spending time on once I’ve had a moment to take a closer look. If you’re a passionate self-learner, you should resist the urge to immediately want to jump down every interesting rabbit hole you can find.
Consider how valuable your time and energy is and keep it focused and purposeful.
If you want to get serious about self-learning:
1. Write down the first thing that pops into your mind when you ask yourself this question: If you could, what is the one area you want to change the most about yourself?
2. After listing the first one or two ideas that come to mind, spend 2 to 3 minutes to think deeper and then write more about what comes up (maybe time yourself to not get distracted and run down that potential rabbit hole).
3. Start with number one on the list. What is the first physical, visible step you’ll take toward growing in that area? Will it be to pick up the phone and speak to someone, download the application form, or do some more research?
4. Look at the list. Which one of these, if addressed first or done well, will make learning and growing in some of the other areas easier? Find the lead domino. (A tip I got from Author Tim Ferriss).
5. Don’t try to change everything at once. Focus working on two areas at a time, which will help to manage the initial discouragement that you may experience during those early days of failure or struggles. Doing too much at once will discourage you and make you reluctant to carry on with any of it.
6. And, to make it easier: who have you heard of who could help you address most of these points, if not all of them, and speed up your growth? What things do they say or do that may serve as possible solutions?
I want to challenge you to try and think a little more about what you are pondering. How can you learn more to improve, and who can help you get there even faster?
Also, who can you help by adding value with what you know?
I hope this inspired you and got you ready to think about making your life count, especially to those around you.
If you have any thoughts or comments on this post, I would love to hear it.
As always, live exceptionally and keep on making a difference.