“On the Journey of Learning.”

I saw this tagline (above) on a big yellow school bus passing me on the highway through Toronto. It’s a beautiful line.

Learning is a journey. If we’re open to it and up for the adventure, it can be a tremendously satisfying lifelong learning journey, with plenty of personal benefits, besides the knowledge we gain.

…when’s the last time you went out of your way to learn something?

The kids have been back in school almost a month now, but what about the rest of us? Are we still on the journey of lifelong learning or did we hop off the bus somewhere en route? When’s the last time you learned something new? More precisely, when’s the last time you went out of your way to learn something?

I’m not talking strictly about job-related learning here, although that’s a wise pursuit that can pay off in spades. I’m also talking about lifelong learning for the sheer joy of it.

Some of us embrace learning? For others, it’s a chore! As kids, we naturally love to learn. Think of the number of times you’ve heard a child ask the question: “Why?” Why are there no more dinosaurs? How big is the tooth fairy, why can’t I see her and what does she do with all the teeth? Why are the neighbours’ kids allowed to stay up later than me? Why? Why? Why? Somewhere along the way, many of us lose this ravenous curiosity. Obviously, it’s not because we know everything. Mostly it’s because we get busy. Other, equally important things take up our time: our families, our friends, our jobs, our outside commitments, keeping up with the demands of the day-to-day, our health, even our worries. In our quiet times, learning something new is not often high on the priority list.

Many creative types embrace lifelong learning; it’s part of their nature…

If you’re from a family of learners, it helps. If, as a child, your curiosity was encouraged and your questions respected and answered, it sets you up to be eternally curious and lifelong learning follows naturally. Many creative types embrace lifelong learning; it’s part of their nature — they’re open to new experiences, they think outside of the box, they ask questions, they’re naturally curious.

If you work in the marketing field, you will fully appreciate just how critical it is for you to be open to lifelong learning. Take a year, 6 months or even a few weeks off and something changes, updates, evolves or a completely new social media platform arrives on the scene! Blink and you miss it! Look at the rapid evolution that has taken place in digital marketing alone. Once upon a time, in the olden days (ooh, maybe 5 years ago) digital marketing and social medi were considered specialist areas. Now ‘digital’ is a key element in any marketing and communications strategy. It’s our professional responsibility to keep ourselves up to date and relevant as much as we can in order to provide informed, educated guidance to our clients.

We’re never too old to learn and it’s never too late.

My father never touched a computer, but he read the paper, front to back, daily, until just before he died at 89. A world traveller as a young man, he continued to scour the atlas, look up facts in his beloved Pears’ Cyclopaedia and was always up for the challenge of a cryptic crossword. A few years ago, a good friend of mine was in the late stages of cancer. She too was a seasoned traveller and the most committed and eclectic lifelong learner I’ve ever met. She researched constantly for pleasure, taught herself a number of languages and like my dad, could hold an intelligent, thoughtful conversation on a great many subjects. She called me late one night from the palliative care ward in Sunnybrook Hospital: “I feel out of touch with the world. I need to research. Can you bring me a laptop.” That conversation has stayed with me; it remains inspirational. We’re never too old to learn and it’s never too late.

It’s not important what we learn. It’s not important how we learn because we all learn differently.

What’s important is that we continue to learn. It helps to surround yourself with people who like to learn. Lifelong learning is intensely, personally satisfying. It increases our confidence. It makes us more interesting as people; we become better conversationalists. It keeps us in touch with what’s going on in the world. It helps sharpen our thought process. Studies reveal that learning can keep us healthier; it can elevate our mood and make us happier and help stave off illness, particularly age-related illness like Alzheimer’s.

The greatest thinkers, people whose ideas change the world, embrace lifelong learning.

A little ‘lifelong learning’ inspiration:

“In times of change learners inherit the earth; while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.”
Eric Hoffer (American moral and social philosopher)

“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.
Mahatma Gandhi (Leader of the Indian Independence movement)

“The best way of learning about anything is by doing.”
– Richard Branson (Humanitarian and founder of the Virgin Group. Interesting fact: Battled with dyslexia, a reading disability.)

“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.”
– Benjamin Franklin (A founding father of The United States of America; helped draft the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States.)

This one is a particularly interesting comment on learning: “It is what we know already that often prevents us from learning.”
– Claude Bernard (French physiologist, responsible for the concept of homeostasis.)

It’s the start of a new school year for the kids. What about the rest of us? What are we going to learn this year? I’m a foodie. On a personal level, I’ve promised myself I’ll learn more about herbs and spices and which ones work best with which foods!

Tell me what you’re learning. #SharedWisdom