Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.—Mahatma Gandhi
The root word of education is derived from the latin ‘educo”, which means to educe, to draw out, to develop from within. Education is different from schooling which is the training we go through in formal institutions of learning. The formal education system is supposed to draw out our innate abilities and make us become more curious and self aware but most of us don’t have this experience.
Lifelong learning is the “ongoing, voluntary, and self-motivated” pursuit of knowledge for either personal or professional reasons. Our schooling is supposed to make us Lifelong learners who are curious and adapting to the ever-changing world of work and life. A typical college graduate has not finished a book since leaving school as they equate the end of school to the end of learning. In an ever-changing world of work where Digital Transformation, Artificial Intelligence, Efficiency, and cost-cutting are the order of the day, been a life long learner and problem solver are skillsets valued in the workplace.
The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance; it is the illusion of knowledge.—Daniel J. Boorstin
According to Napoleon Hill in his Seminal Book, Think and Grow Rich, he said:
An educated man is not, necessarily, one who has an abundance of general or specialized knowledge. An educated man is one who has so developed the faculties of his mind that he may acquire anything he wants, or its equivalent, without violating the rights of others.
In his book, No Excuses!: The Power of Self-Discipline, Brain Tracy shares some great insights on Life-Long Learning:
26 Percent Better Each Year
By working on yourself a little bit each day—learning new skills, getting better at your key tasks, setting priorities, and focusing on higher-value activities—you can become 26 percent more productive over the course of an entire year”
By the Law of Accumulation, or the Law of Incremental Improvement, by the end of twelve months, you would be 26 percent better. If you continued to improve at 26 percent per year, by the end of ten years, with compounding, you would be 1,004 percent more productive. Your income would increase at the same rate. This formula works—if you do.
If you read in your field one hour per day, that will translate into about one book per week. One book per week will translate into about fifty books per year. Since the average adult reads less than one nonfiction book per year, if you were to read fifty books in your field each year, do you think that would give you an edge in your profession? Do you think that it would move you ahead of virtually everyone else in your business? Of course, it would!.
Reading one hour per day in your field will make you a national authority in three to five years. This alone can give you your 1,000 percent increase over the course of your career.
Could you get one one-thousandth of 1 percent better five days a week for an entire month? If you could, this means that you would be one half of 1 percent better per week multiplied times four, or 2 percent more productive in an entire month.
There are thirteen four-week months in a year (4 × 13 = 52). Having become 2 percent better in a month, could you repeat that in the second month? In the third month? The fourth month? And so on?
Be a Learning Machine – Charlie Munger
“In my whole life, I have known no wise people (over a broad subject matter area) who didn’t read all the time—none. Zero. You’d be amazed at how much Warren reads—and how much I read. My children laugh at me. They think I’m a book with a couple of legs sticking out.”– Charlie Munger
In his 2007 Commencement Address to the graduating students at the University of Southern California Law School, Charlie Munger, vice chairman of Berkshire Hathaway advises the graduating students to be a learning machine-like Warren Buffet.
Wisdom acquisition is a moral duty.
And there’s a corollary to that proposition which is very important. It means that you’re hooked for lifetime learning, and without lifetime learning you people are not going to do very well. You are not going to get very far in life based on what you already know. You’re going to advance in life by what you’re going to learn after you leave here.
If you take Berkshire Hathaway, which is certainly one of the best-regarded corporations in the world and may have the best long-term investment record in the entire history of civilization, the skill that got Berkshire through one decade would not have sufficed to get it through the next decade with the achievements made.
Without Warren Buffett being a learning machine, a continuous learning machine, the record would have been absolutely impossible.
The same is true at lower walks of life. I constantly see people rise in life who are not the smartest, sometimes not even the most diligent, but they are learning machines. They go to bed every night a little wiser than when they got up and boy does that help—particularly when you have a long run ahead of you.
I was very lucky. I came to law school having learned the method of learning and nothing has served me better in my long life than continuous learning. And if you take Warren Buffett and watched him with a time clock, I would say half of all the time he spends is sitting on his ass and reading. And a big chunk of the rest of the time is spent talking one on one either on the telephone or personally with highly gifted people whom he trusts and who trust him. In other words, it looks quite academic, all this worldly success.
How to become a Life Long Learner
Brian Tracy adviced in his book,No Excuses!: The Power of Self-Discipline, on becoming a lifelong learner:
There are three simple steps that you can follow to become the very best in your field:
1. Read sixty minutes in your field each day. Turn off the television and the radio, put aside the newspaper, and read material about your field for one hour each day before you start working.
2. Listen to educational audio programs in your car. Start them and stop them as you listen, so you can reflect on what you have just heard and think about how you can apply the ideas to your work.
3. Attend courses and seminars in your field regularly. Seek them out. Take online courses in the convenience of your own home, courses that enable you to upgrade your skills and give you important ideas that you can use to be even more successful.
The good news is that almost every important skill is learnable. Every business skill is learnable. Everyone who is proficient in any area of business was at one time completely ignorant in that area. Every sales skill is learnable. Every top salesperson was once a beginning salesperson and unable to make a call or close a sale. All moneymaking skills are learnable as well. Almost every wealthy person was once poor. You can learn anything you need to learn to achieve any goal you can set for yourself.
All the best in your quest to get better. Don’t Settle: Live with Passion.