As we all come to terms with the reality that almost half of 2020 has been erased from our calendars, the world is still reeling from the impact of Covid-19 spreading into our personal space. One compelling revolution that has emerged from the beginning of this pandemic, is that it has dramatically accelerated the age of digital learning.
Even before COVID-19, there was already high growth and adoption in online learning technology, with global edtech investments reaching US$18.66 billion in 2019 and the overall market for online education projected to reach $350 Billion by 2025. Whether it is language apps, virtual tutoring, video conferencing tools, or online learning software, there has been a significant surge in usage since COVID-19.
Because of quarantines and lockdowns that has shutdown most parts of the globe, everything has shifted online, including learning. With the constant influx of webinars and free online learning courses which are now easily accessible and available to us, what is stopping us from acquiring more knowledge and upgrading our skills?
In our experience of coaching and consulting for our clients in a variety of industries, we have come across intriguing people who excel in learning by scanning the horizon for growth opportunities, pushing themselves to acquire radically different capabilities while still performing their job.
How then, do we adopt this kind of success in learning and have a willingness to experiment and become a novice again - which is always an uncomfortable notion for most of us?
With the wave of digital transformation happening in diverse industries during these pandemic days, application of these fast-moving technologies is best converted only when we use the most important asset we are born with - our mindset. As the old proverb goes, you could always lead a horse to the water, however, if it refuses to drink, every effort will be brought to nought.
Here are 3 important attributes that will help expand your mindset in these times of evolving technology and learning:
An Aptitude to Learn
While it may appear that some people have a natural flair for learning and have been gifted with the ability to absorb knowledge quickly, the truth is that anybody can achieve this. As long as you have a mindset which is open and willing to grow - your mindset can be trained for greatness.
People who truly want to understand and master new skills; who see themselves very clearly and know their objectives, who are curious and constantly ask questions; and who tolerate their own mistakes as they move up the learning curve, are those who will flourish in whatever they do.
An initial response to learning something new is probably trying to justify not learning it. This is often our first roadblock: We focus on the negative and unconsciously reinforce our lack of aspiration. Think back to something you were passionate about and when you were excited to learn it - did it propel you to action? When we do want to learn something, we will focus on what we gain from learning it. Try shifting your focus from challenges to benefits, what is that one skill you can achieve? Even if it is something you didn't plan for, it is a good way to increase your motivation to do initially unappealing things and in the long run, be more willing to practice it.
Have some level of Self-awareness
Most leaders have grown familiar with the concept of self-awareness. They understand that they need to solicit feedback and recognise how others see them. But when it comes to the need for learning, our assessments of ourselves—what we know and don’t know, skills we have and don’t have—can still be surprisingly inaccurate. Listen to that voice inside yourself, take a moment to evaluate yourself accurately by asking these questions: "Is my perspective biased or flawed? What facts do I have to support this?" The trick is to pay attention to the validity of that “self-talk.” In the process of this reflection, you could discover new developmental needs and a sharper instinct for constructive feedback.
In any business, the leadership has to learn to say and believe that feedback is a gift.
It will lead your employees to feel psychologically safe whenever they are sharing their reports, have deeper insights into developing strategies as a team and elevate higher levels of performance among them.
Usually humans are happy with being in their comfort zone. When we become good or excellent at some things, we rarely want to go back to being not good at other things. As leaders, do you teach your employees how to embrace experimentation and an ability to “fail but get up quickly” at work?
It is important we play to our strengths, however, great learners allow themselves to be vulnerable enough to accept that beginner state. When we allow negative thoughts such as: ”I don’t think I will do well in this” or “I’ll never get this right. This is so frustrating”, to come into our minds, that static in our brains leaves little bandwidth for learning.
The ideal mindset for a beginner is both vulnerable and balanced: Encourage your teams to expect mistakes and learn from them early in the process of acquiring new skills.
The ability to acquire new skills and knowledge quickly and continually is crucial to success in this world of rapid change. Our team at Engaging Leaders has had the privilege of working with many clients who have developed this continuity in learning and mindset transformation during our journey with them. Whenever your employees have to adopt to a new digital platform, or revamp their supply chain process or reporting systems, the ultimate tool and asset to make this a success, would be a learning and growth mindset. Take this season to sharpen your skills or develop new ones. Even when you are at a loss for what to do, enrolling yourself in a formal programme aligned with your dream goals is a good start. Never be stagnant. One thing will often lead to the next.
Monica Tan, firstname.lastname@example.org
Monica Tan, Engaging Leaders, leads our clients through a journey of performance and change. With more than 15 years of client and project management experience, she serves as a key advisor to our clients.