7 Characteristics of Life Long Learners (Part One)

Passionate, Curious, Humble
Note 02: Life Long Learning

Not only am I a life long learner, but many of my closest friends are as well. That is why they are my friends. I value this so much, I seek out relationships with others who are excited to learn and who enjoy the interchange of the exciting ideas which stimulate our own personal growth.

Here are some of the characteristics I have seen in my friends. If you would get to know me, you would see these same features in my own life.

LLL love to learn.
That sounds redundant but I point it out anyway. It is hard to sustain in your life, something you don’t enjoy. There are some things I do continually that I do not enjoy. I have to “make myself” do those things. Like watch my weight. Like exercise. Like cut the grass. It is easy to regress and stop doing them. When you don’t love or at least enjoy what you do, chances are good you will stop doing that thing.

Then, there are things I love. I do them naturally, easily and with great enjoyment. To sustain something over life - you must enjoy and even love that thing. You must love to learn. Or you must so value learning that you are constantly motivated to learn.

LLL are open, curious, interested, and teachable
. They are self-motivated to learn. They take the initiative to learn. They seek to learn. They are hungry to learn. They have confidence they can learn. They are committed to learn. They are willing to make the investment of time, money and energy to learn. They feel very good about life, their future and themselves as they learn.

LLL are humble and have a realistic assessment of what they know and more importantly - what they don’t know.
From time to time I have conversations with leaders and I come away thinking, “You have no idea what you don’t even know.” Pride, over-confidence, insecurity, fear of looking “dumb,” posturing and pretending and more interfere with learning.

When you are humble and wise about what you don’t know, you aren’t afraid to say, “I don’t know.” You aren’t afraid to ask a question to learn from others. You aren’t concerned if someone else thinks it is a dumb question. If you don’t know something and you ask about it - it is NEVER DUMB. And the fact you are willing to ask about something you don’t know - it may make you one of the smartest people in the room!

I recently did a seminar and there was a very intelligent, highly gifted individual participating in the seminar. He had a wealth of education and experience that no one else had. And yet - he was the most humble seeker of truth and insight. He asked so many questions that a less secure leader might have been afraid to ask. The smartest guy in the room showed how smart he really was. He had no ego issues. He had no need to project to others, “I already know this.”

Compare this with another seminar (actually, many seminars) where a participant already knew everything I was there to teach. Well, actually they didn’t know nearly as much as they thought, but they had an ego need that others would see them as an expert already. By the way - my own ego has led me to some posturing and pretending about my own learning when I have been at seminars. Sigh. Pride is an ugly thing. Stupid too!

These are the first three characteristics of Life Long Learners. Next week - Four More.

For now - do a little reflection on
how passionate you are about learning,
how open and curious you are to learn, and
how humble you are about what you know and don't know.


Brian K. Rice
Leadership ConneXtions International