7 Characteristics of Life Long Learners (Part Two)

Life Long Learning, Note 05
Picking up from Note 02 and the first three qualities, here are four more. (If you missed Part One, be sure to read it first!) 

(1)  Love to learn
(2)  Open, curious, interested, teachable
(3)  humble and self-aware of limits and needs

While many of these posts on LifeLong Learning are short and have one point, I also provide some longer reflections that cover more territory and are therefore, a little longer. Today is a little longer.

Lou Holtz quote, ask questions to learn(4)  LifeLong Learners ask questions.
Lots of questions. Really good questions. And the really good questions means they are the right questions. I think this is one of my strengths as a learner. I am always asking questions. I was working through some challenging ideas this morning on Augustine and Aquinas on virtue. I instinctively asked a set of questions.

  • What does it mean to be good?
  • Do I want to be a good person?
  • Can I be good without God?
  • How does God make me a good person?
  • Does God ask me to have any role in goodness growing in my life?
  • If I do have a role - what does it entail?

I am asking these questions because they are important to the theme of morality, character and virtue formation. I want to become a good, growing, emotionally healthy, Christ-like leader. These questions need some answers for me to move forward on this personal project. I am also writing a curriculum that is designed to help others grow in the virtues of Christ. So I need thoughtful answers so I can be of best help for their journey.

  • What questions are you most interested in these days?
  • What questions are you asking and how is the search moving along?

Aristotle quote, all human beings desire to know(5)  LifeLong Learners find the best resources they need so they can learn.
A resource is anything that provides,
stimulates, brings into your orbit - insights, assistance and help. Resources are how we get access to what we need. Resources come in many forms.

Books, articles, essays, magazines, journals.
Wide array of internet resources, similar to the previous group, but in an electronic form.
Conversations with others, whether peers or mentors.
Opportunities to participate in the field of interest.
Hands on experience trying out something new.

Different learners have different learning preferences. Depending on your preferred styles of learning, you will be drawn to the appropriate type of resources. 

I am drawn to books and serious essays.

I had a conversation with a leader who learns best in the process of conversations. Talking aloud, having the social component, the way of dialog and debate - all this is very stimulating for my friend. When he takes advantage of this way to learn - he has great learning experiences.

  • What kinds of resources do you most enjoy using?
  • What are 2 - 3 of the best resources you are using this day?

Confidence in learning(6)  LifeLong Learners are confident about their ability to learn.
Confidence is not opposed to humility
. Remember the 3rd characteristic of LifeLong Learners - they are humble. That means they know what they don't know.

Confidence is different from the self-awareness that knows what you need to know. The confident learner is the one who believes they have the capacity, the ability to actually learn. When you are confident, you are much more motivated to step out and start learning.

When you don't have confidence you can't learn, you will hold back, be tentative, only partially engaged. This is because we fear the unknown, we fear failure, we fear looking bad. When you don't have confidence about your ability to learn - you are fearful. When you do have confidence, you jump in the river and go with that flow.

By definition, learning means engaging with what is new. When you are fearful of change, you will be resistant to meaningful learning. For learning will always have the component of change as inherent to the learning.

  • How much confidence do you have about your ability to learn?
  • What concerns you the most about whether you can be a LifeLong Learner?

(7)  LifeLong Learners believe their investment in learning is worthwhile.
That is great, because learning will require something.
Learning is a long, slow, deep, difficult and particular process. It costs you something to be a lifelong learner. You have to have buy-in to the learning journey. To have buy-in, you have to believe the investment of time, energy and finances is worth it. 

Learning is one of my StrengthsFinder strengths. I have an inclination to learn. Learning (via reading) is hobby - I do it for fun. At the same time, I have a ministry of teaching and training, of which learning is core to that work. So learning is calling and vocation for me.

Inclination. Hobby. Vocation. Still it is difficult and demanding and it costs me something to do it. But when I do, I know I am making an investment in the future. When you choose to learn, you are making an investment of your time and energy now, that will have payoffs and dividends in the future. One person says that every day you should make decisions about now that your "future you" will thank you for making. Some of those best decisions are the decision to invest in your learning.

  • Are you ready to start making investments in your future by learning now?


Brian K. Rice
Leadership ConneXtions International