Organizational complexity (number of procedures, structures, processes, systems, vertical layers, and decision approvals) increased by a factor of thirty-five. To learn fast, you must be interested in people and ideas, not just yourself. “Be savvy, flexible, learn from mistakes and collaborate with well-connected people,” writes Shane Snow, the author of Smartcuts: How Hackers, Innovators, and Icons Accelerate Success. Those who learn fast build diverse knowledge pools and tap into the wisdom of mentors to raise their game. They are fast learners for whom questioning, thinking and growing is the norm.
Here are five ways for learning more, faster.
- Leaders are readers. If you can learn to read, you can read to learn. What’s on your reading list for 2016? Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and Sir Richard Branson are all prolific readers. Deep reading helps you to be fully present and has been shown to build cognitive skills, problem solving and even creativity all essential in a fast changing world. Try the App Get Abstract. It provides 5-page executive summaries of books and is a favored learning tool amongst high performers.
- Never Eat Alone. When’s the last time you had lunch or supper with someone and learnt something new? To learn fast, you must build up networks of thinkers and doers who you can tap during your career. Networks give you access, insight and influence. Likewise, if you’re not connected to the right minds it’s much more difficult to learn. 9others.com is one such community that knows ideas occur when humans connect and exchange ideas. It was founded in 2011, on the belief that “your success requires the aid of others.” A host and nine others will meet for an informal dinner to mingle, discuss challenges, and share experiences. It already has a network of more than 3,500 entrepreneurs in thirty-three cities and is leading the way with a more intelligent approach to networking.
- Mentors Raise Your Game. Mentors are like critical friends. They provide a private space for you to discuss challenges, overcome obstacles and test ideas. Mentors can also be living or dead. You can still learn by studying what great executives and entrepreneurs have done in the past. Check out Rockstar Mentoring Group that are on a mission to help you find your best self and exceed your own expectations and Oxford Entrepreneurs which is a society for helping entrepreneurs grow.
- Fail Fast. Learning by doing is probably the most powerful way to grow. You are bound to fail occasionally. In failure are life’s little secrets: you cannot learn to ride a bike by reading how to ride one. James Dyson produced more than 5,000 failed prototypes before he invented his bestselling Dyson Air Vacuum. Embrace failure as your biggest teacher. It’s a vital part of the process of growing as a human being. A real failure is when you make a mistake and don’t fix it quickly and start over. The formula for success isn’t a mystery. It’s a conscious choice to learn from failure. Each wrong choice builds character and strengthens your mindset for the next challenge.
- Make Your Own Luck. Luck is a skill that can be developed. It’s about a flexibility of mind and a willingness to listen to your heart and trust your gut. Take advantage of chance occurrences, break the weekly routine, and once in a while have the courage to let go. The world is full of opportunity if you’re prepared to embrace it. Tina Seeling, executive director of the Stanford Technology Ventures program and author of What I Wish I Knew When I Was 20, writes: “Lucky people don’t just pay attention to the world around them and meet interesting individuals—they also find unusual ways to use and recombine their knowledge and experiences. Most people have remarkable resources at their fingertips, but never figure out how to leverage them. However, lucky people appreciate the value of their knowledge and their network, and tap into their goldmines as needed.”
To sum up, learning is no longer an option. It’s a survival skill. To thrive in the age of disruption, you should adopt a beginner’s mindset and never stop learning.
Terence Mauri is the author of a new book, The Leader’s Mindset: How To Win In The Age of Disruption