Tips: Becoming a Lifelong Learner

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Tips – October 2018
Becoming a Lifelong Learner

In last month’s blog, read here, guest contributor Dr. Jan Gehler addressed the connection between effective leadership and a commitment to lifelong learning (LL), describing how LL has been personally beneficial to her. There are many compelling reasons to adopt a philosophy of LL; it is a pathway to bettering oneself, it keeps us youthful, it enhances our health and engages a strong social network. AND, there are economic benefits to one’s work life and career. Lifelong learning also benefits the team and the organization who makes that commitment.

In this TIPS section, we offer some ideas about how to enhance your own effectiveness with a passion for learning as discovery and adventure, rather than simply as an end-goal of its own. You could consider LL as the adult version of a Montessori approach. . . follow what you want to know.

Here are some tips worth considering.

For the individual:

  1. Make a conscious decision to always be learning, then make LL a habit.
  2. Make a plan for learning, and schedule time for it, daily if possible. Look for those little chunks of time where you could be learning something new. . . a language, a podcast. Keep a book or an ebook with you as part of your “things I carry with me daily.”
  3. If possible, engage in work that requires a continual level of learning. If that is not your situation at the moment, look for areas of your work or places in your life where continued learning will produce improved results.
  4. Read, read, read! Stay on top of the books and articles referenced in your profession and organization. Include the books, magazines, manuals, and yes, comic books that your friends are reading. Look for what you can learn anywhere.
  5. Keep a journal of your learnings rather than a diary of your daily activities. Write down your questions. Keep coming back to them.
  6. Surround yourself and actively network with people who you regard as LLs. Find out how they are expanding their learning opportunities.
  7. Attend a lecture, or a brown bag “lunch and learn.” Share your learnings, however unusual, with others.
  8. Try new things often.
  9. Seek out free and low cost internet sources for continual learning, such as TED talks, Kahn Academy classes, Coursera, your local college and university LL resources. Go to their websites and flip through the sessions or catalog for areas that interest you, or that you have questions about.
  10. Teach others.

For the team/organization:

  1. Commit to defining and creating a culture of lifelong learning in your organization, and make the sharing of learnings an important part of group discussions and meetings.
  2. Ask your team for ideas about how they can develop as a LL team. Make a field trip to an unrelated business to study a process that you wonder about.

And whether it relates to you individually or within a group, realize that coaching is a great avenue to continual learning about yourself, your team and your organization. Thunderbird Leadership Consulting offers Executive/Leader Coaching, Team Coaching, and a new program, the Resilient Nurse Leader Coaching series.

Jill Bachman, MSN


  1. TED talks.
  2. Kahn Academy.
  4. In 2002 MIT began a program of OpenCourseWare, today titled OCW MIT. Today there are universities across the country using a similar approach.