The never-ending doctorate (on constant learning)

The truth is we don’t know everything, and we never will. Improving yourself, advancing your career and being the best you can be, requires constant learning, tweaking your skills, and adding to your knowledge and experience.

The truth is we don’t know everything, and we never will. Improving yourself, advancing your career and being the best you can be, requires constant learning, tweaking your skills, and adding to your knowledge and experience.

Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to interview hundreds of successful people from all walks of life. One of the common traits, be they executive leaders, Olympians, community leaders, artists, or entrepreneurs is they understand the importance of continuous improvement learning. I like to call it the never-ending doctorate because you never get the piece of paper at the end. It’s not a formal degree, it’s a mindset.

Enrolling in the never-ending doctorate (figuratively) is about learning to do things better and learning to be better, both professionally and personally. There’s no formal enrolment or curriculum, just a desire to learn new things, be open to new ways of thinking and new perspectives. It requires being curious and inquisitive, asking questions and listening, really listening to the answers. It occurs through formal and informal education, from the people you meet, the books you read, and the dance classes you take, on a daily consistent basis.

Of course, that sounds completely overwhelming because who’s got the time and energy, especially after the past few years, to embark on a regiment of learning. But what if constant learning was not a project or a one-off endeavour, but a matter of consistent small steps? What if the never-ending doctorate was a game of inches?

Here are 5 places to start.

By doing

There’s an amazing tourist destination in far North Queensland called Paronella Park. It’s a stunning property, once the home of Jose Paronella, and now an award-winning venue. However, Paranello Park is situated in a cyclone belt south of Cairns and owner Mark Evans has experienced a few. Each time he has managed to get better and faster at cleaning up, rebuilding and reopening. I asked him once, ‘how do you get through a cyclone?’ and he told me the only way you can get through a cyclone is to go through a cyclone (worth pausing and thinking about that).

The people you meet

Have you ever attended a conference where the ‘game-changer’ learning did not come from a formal presentation but a conversation with someone you met in the coffee line? I am endlessly amazed at what I learn from others, not just my peers or the people I know but from the people I meet. Never underestimate what you can learn from a chance meeting with someone.

Books, Videos, Podcast and whatever comes next

No doubt you have heard the expression that successful people are readers. True. However, in today’s world, we need to extend this idea from just books and journals to blogs, online platforms, videos and podcasts.

Formal education

I am a huge fan of formal, evidence-based education and the good news is, advances in technology have made formal education so much more accessible. Be it a postgraduate degree or a short course, there is massive value in formal learning.

Learn something completely different

Who said learning can only be about advancing your career and professional skills? Why not learn something just because you want to or for the fun of it. And who knows, what you learn in a completely different sphere may help in your career. So, enrol in that acting class or art class you’ve been wanting to do for so long.

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With over 20 years working with executive leaders, Nigel works with leaders on how small changes can help embrace change, innovate daily and drive growth.

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Nigel Collin

Nigel Collin

With over 20 years working with executive leaders, Nigel works with leaders on how small changes can help embrace change, innovate daily and drive growth.

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