The willingness to learn is a choice

The willingness to learn is a choice

Teaching is in my blood. I have grown up in a family of teachers and even now, cousins and siblings have joined the profession. Although I’m not officially in the teaching space myself anymore, I have spent time in my firm’s Learning and Development team and I am still involved in on the job training and mentoring. I love the satisfaction I feel in that ‘light bulb moment’ when I’ve explained something to someone and see the understanding shine in their eyes, when I see them implement the learning points on the job, when I can share my experiences to make others’ better.

What I’ve come to realise is that being on the other side, being the learner, is what is sometimes difficult for me. I enjoy learning new things and being challenged intellectually, particularly in my role as a mother and in my field of work. But as someone who thrives on excelling in all areas of my life, I generally find it difficult to receive feedback that makes me feel like I don’t know what I’m doing. It’s hard. It requires me to admit that I’m not perfect. When you’re operating in an environment that constantly requires excellence and high performance, admitting you don’t know it all and still have a lot to learn takes courage.

I recently came across this great quote – “The capacity to learn is a gift; the ability to learn is a skill; the willingness to learn is a choice.” One of the most important leadership qualities I’ve learnt is to be humble enough to be teachable. To learn from others, including those who should be learning from you. To be open to feedback that allows you to develop personally and professionally. It takes an open mind and an open heart to admit you don’t know it all and that those around you have things to teach you. Sometimes it may even be a two year old.

What amazes me is when I do approach situations with a teachable attitude, I learn more than I expected to, the people around me are more comfortable to be open and honest, to ask the difficult questions and challenge me on my way of thinking, on things I could improve on. Being teachable doesn’t only lead to the development of the individual, it also results in better relationships and healthier and happier team dynamics.

Learning happens everywhere, even in the most unexpected situations. Be open to it. After all, “once you stop learning, you start dying”.

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