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  • Writer's pictureSarah Ritchie

Are you a life-long learner?



A journalist once asked me the following question: “What was the biggest learning for you, personally, when putting ‘How to Tango with a Tiger’ together?” I had to think for a while on that one, as there were a great many learnings that I gained throughout the book writing and production process, but here was my answer:

I learned that after 30 years in and around the industry; after talking with over 1000 people about their experiences; and after extensive research, that I cannot hope to ever ‘know it all’...and, frankly, I like it that way. It means that every day I am learning something new (thanks to our fast-moving industry), and I hope that sense of curiosity and wonder stays with me for the rest of my life.

After the interview, I started to think more about how people react to the concept of ‘ongoing learning’. For some, it seems, admitting that they don’t know something can be akin to admitting failure; or is a hit to their pride; or perhaps they feel that it jeopardises the kudos of being a senior employee.

Last year I spoke with a very senior marketer and asked him how he kept up-to-date in an industry that was changing at a rapid pace. He unapologetically responded that he didn’t have time for learning new things and that he relied on his team and his agencies to tell him what he needed to know.

While I completely understand the tyranny of being time-poor (I am the queen of unfinished to-do lists), his response conveyed a considerable lack of curiosity and self-development. Not only did he appear to be on a hamster wheel of regurgitated knowledge, but his attitude was also depriving his team of future-thinking leadership.

Being closed to learning new information places a person within a time capsule. You’ll only ever know what you know; never moving forward at any pace; where you’ll be slowly drip-fed information – if and when it happens to cross your path. What type of life is that? What type of team and company do you hope to create within a bubble that’s focused on the past?

It’s time to challenge your mindset. Are you open to learning new things – irrespective of how long you have worked in the industry? Are you curious enough to seek out new information? Are you confident enough in yourself to admit that you do not know something – then be proactive enough to redress the deficit? If you are, I can guarantee that your work (and home) life will flourish.

Let’s all agree to be life-long learners – it’s a wild and VERY illuminating ride!



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