Networking: Section 8 - A Guide to Learning

Learning is a never-ending process of personal change 

Part of the joy of life is the continuous wonder of learning new things. When you integrate new knowledge with what you already know, you build a deep, richly-textured fabric of wisdom that can be applied to make life more satisfying and productive. In other words: knowledge is your key to success. 

It’s surprising how many people lose the ambition to keep on learning once they finish formal schooling. The fact is that while school (including college) teaches you how to learn, most formal education only gives you an initial load of facts and skills. There is so much more to learn as you recognize connections in life, refine your understanding and develop growing wisdom. 

A Manager in Louisiana says, “I’ll be learning until I’m 90 years old and on crutches.” She understands that learning doesn’t have to end until the end.  

“All human beings, by nature, desire to know.” 
— Aristotle 

“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning today is young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.” 
— Henry Ford 

 “The only person who is educated is the one who has learned how to learn … and change.” 
— Carl Rogers 

 “In a world that is constantly changing, there is no one subject or set of subjects that will serve you for the foreseeable future, let alone for the rest of your life. The most important skill to acquire now is learning how to learn.” 
— John Naisbitt 

 “… in the world of the future, the new illiterate will be the person who has not learned how to learn.” 
— Alvin Toffler 

 “Knowledge has three degrees – opinion, science, illumination. The means or instrument of the first is sense; of the second, dialectic; of the third, intuition.” 
— Plotinus 

A brief thank you to my readers:  

“To read a writer is for me not merely to get an idea of what he says, but to go off with him, and travel in his company.” 
— Andre Gide (1903) 

 Imitate what works for others 

Look for successful people and learn from what they are doing. When you imitate what they are doing, you can expect to begin having similar results. 

 Try to not fixate on a single individual. You can do better. Pay attention to the attitudes and results of all the successful people you admire. Fortunately for you, you are in a network organization which, by nature, brings successful people together for mutual support in achieving common goals.  

You can meet many of these folks in person and even more through the books they have written. Not every book contains advice that is right for you. But, as you continue reading widely, you will see patterns emerge and begin to identify the things that you change to improve your life. 

“Imitation is not just the sincerest form of flattery - it's the sincerest form of learning.”  
― George Bernard Shaw 

 Now comes the hard part. You have to actually change. When you recognize old patterns of response that aren’t serving you well, work to make that change as quickly and as well as you can. Our habits and mental patterns are real and have power. If you are going to get out of a rut, you have to invest enough energy to get fully clear of it. 

 Once you have made the desired change, you can see further, broader and more clearly than when you were in a rut. Now is always a good time to take a good look around and reevaluate everything, Fix your sights on your goals. Decide which changes will take you further in the direction of your dreams. Become the agent of your own growth. Nurture yourself. 

“I invent nothing; I rediscover.” 
Rodin 

Don’t be limited by what others do 

When you read a self-help book you can pick up some good ideas. Never, never, stop there. I don’t know everything; read other authors. Feed your mind a flood of vicarious experiences. Expose yourself to a wide variety of real experiences. Collect ideas. 

 Then what do you do next? Have respect for your own experience and good sense. Pick out the changes that are good for you. Send problems to your subconscious to figure out and then listen when creative ideas come back. In the final analysis it’s your life; you make choices and you stand responsible for the results. 

“If you see in any given situation only what everybody else can see, you can be said to be so much a representative of your culture that you are a victim of it.” 
— S. I. Hayakawa 

“We can be knowledgeable with another man’s knowledge, but we cannot be wise with another man’s wisdom.” 
— Michel De Montaigne 

 Everybody starts out ignorant 

It’s OK to not know as much as someone else. At one time, that other person knew less than you do now. Do you get the point? You will learn if you persist. Moreover, you can teach what you do already know. There are plenty of people who haven’t yet opened their eyes to begin to see even the outline of what you already recognize as wonderful and important. 

 You don’t have to have everything figured out before you start. Like a journey, you don’t have to know every step ahead of time, just be willing to keep getting closer to your destination. You will learn as you go. You will experiment. You will make mistakes and learn from those mistakes. In the end, you will be the expert that you are hoping to become. People will come to you for advice and direction. 

“The work will teach you how to do it.” 
— Estonian Proverb 

“To know that you do not know is best. To pretend to know when you do not know is a disease.”  
— Lao Tzu 

“Everyone is ignorant, only in different subjects.” 
— Will Rogers 

Build a library and read at least one book every month 

You are going to accumulate books, eBooks, magazines, Internet links, handouts, notes and clippings. All you have to do is organize your educational materials and you have a library. You should constantly be acquiring more knowledge about your areas of interest. In turn, this should constantly expand your areas of interest.  

“Write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow.”  
― Lawrence Clark Powell 

I’m a tech early-adaptor, but still feel that physical books are the best way to read comfortably and learn at your own pace. On the other hand, the Internet is such a rich source of easily-searchable (and free) information, you should also be comfortable and proficient with your computer.  

 Building a library shows your commitment to your own education. It provides the means to help others to learn as well. You can recommend your books, read from them at training meetings and even loan them out. But beware; you have been warned: 

“Never loan a book to someone if you expect to get it back. Loaning books is the same as giving them away.” 
— Doug Copeland 

“Never lend books, for no one ever returns them; the only books I have in my library are books that other folks have lent me.” 
— Anatole France 

 Set aside a budget for building your library. Subscribe to appropriate magazines and newsletters. Find books that add important information to your reference collection. 

 You don’t always have to buy books at retail. You can find real bargains in used book stores. If you have a store and you sell books, your wholesaler will save you about 40% off the retail cost. I subscribe to Amazon Prime and am able to enjoy reduced prices and free shipping, even on single copies.  

“Self-education is, I firmly believe, the only kind of education there is.” 
— Isaac Asimov 

“Nothing has such power to broaden the mind as the ability to investigate systematically and truly all that comes under thy observation in life.” 
— Marcus Aurelius 

“A man may know himself by the books he keeps.” 
— Ronan Graybear 

Learning and teaching 

Studying and learning earns many long-term benefits. It improves your self-confidence because you become recognizably more knowledgeable and competent. You are aware that you know more, and so does everyone else. Your reputation will grow. 

 Studying and learning sets you apart. Not everyone has the self-discipline to apply themselves persistently. It’s amazing how many people do just enough to get by.  

“The best thing for being sad," replied Merlin, beginning to puff and blow, "is to learn something. That's the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then — to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting. Learning is the only thing for you. Look what a lot of things there are to learn.”  
― T.H. White, The Once and Future King 

Studying and learning makes you a better teacher. Teaching, in turn, reinforces what you have learned. You will make many close friends because your students will appreciate your sharing your knowledge with them. Teaching and, especially, mentoring are very personal activities that bond people together. 

 When your customers have questions and you have answers, this strengthens your position in the marketplace. Your reputation will spread and the extra word-of-mouth advertising will increase your business. 

“If you want to build a ship, don't drum up people together to collect wood and don't assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.”  
― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry 

“True teachers are those who use themselves as bridges over which they invite their students to cross; then, having facilitated their crossing, joyfully collapse, encouraging them to create their 
own.”  
― Nikos Kazantzakis