Are You a Serial Learner?

Sure, some forms of learning are free, but there’s still a cost: the time spent on more learning instead of more action.

I remember working on an application for a MasterMind group when one statement struck me: This may not be the program for you if you typically start new projects with enthusiasm, but seldom finish.

Work-related projects and formal education aside, I have to admit that I fall into that category. Hi, my name is Marcelle…and I’m a serial learner.

I buy the latest books and attend countless classes and conferences, workshops and webinars, speeches and seminars. But I fall short of taking – or sustaining – action that will help me surpass major milestones or achieve big, hairy, audacious goals.

Sure, some forms of learning are free, but there’s still a cost: the time spent on more learning instead of more action.

You may have a direct report who keeps hitting you up for training, or you may be a serial learner yourself. If so, here are a few strategies to help you (or them) recover:

  • Make a commitment to apply takeaways from your last learning opportunity before moving on to something new. Go back and read your notes or review that “one thing” you said you were going to do…and do it.

  • Complete that "next big step" that’s been hanging over your head. Maybe you're procrastinating or afraid. Just remember that the antidote for fear is action. In fact, rather than fear being “False Expectations Appearing Real,” I always think of it as “Forgoing Explicit Action Regularly” (be sure to cite me on that little gem!).

  • Think of that big step as practice. Make (and record) some sales calls and assess where you could improve, speak in front of small groups with lots of familiar faces, talk with your manager about taking on a new task on a trial basis, etc. Once you have a feel for your improvement needs, you’ll better assess whether a particular opportunity's learning objectives will truly meet your needs.

  • Discover the actions of those who've achieved similar goals, then ask someone to hold you accountable for doing the same. For maximum accountability and motivation, consider hiring an ICF-credentialed coach, which means they've had a minimum of 60 hours of coach-specific training and at least 75 hours of paid coaching.

  • Reread The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (Stephen R. Covey), Leading Change (John Kotter) or another classic business book...and apply the principles therein. It seems at least half of today’s business best sellers are rehashes of the classics. Good for the authors for repackaging, bad for us for repurchasing.

In the end, I didn’t sign up of for the MasterMind group. Instead, I started reaching out to prospective clients. I can’t say for certain that I’ve conquered my serial learning -- I've reserved spaces in two "free" webinars today -- but my confession was the first step.

Know a serial learner in your life? Share this article with them for an intervention. 

Through her firm, Job Mixology, LLC, Marcelle specializes in conquering barriers to employee development – including busy managers, poor conversations and lack of opportunities – to help organizations of all sizes maximize retention, training dollars and their leadership pipelines. 

This article first appeared on LinkedIn.

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Virginia, United States