What’s The Best Way To Learn?

­­­­­I recently read a story where a pottery teacher put his class in two groups, and asks one group to go through the formal phases of learning: planning, analysis, and so on, while the other group is asked to learn the hard way: learning while applying. In the end, the products from latter are deemed better of the lot. The idea (how I see it) was simple, the more you spend time on doing something practically, the more you learn. When you’re left to do things on your own, you feel competitive, you feel creative, and a sense of achievement runs through you when you accomplish a task on your own. Then again, the formal training gives you that cutting edge, broadens your horizon (knowledge), and increases the scope of your perception.

So… Which is the best way to learn?

Imagine you are taught how to swim at a remote location or somewhere away from the pool, but you wouldn’t be able to swim unless you try it out for yourself. You should be able to feel the water, its pressure, the amount of work you need to put in, and you watch others to learn if you are doing it right or if there is a better way to do it. Then there are people (let’s say bunch of trainees), and they are taught the same things. But, not all of them or even one of them gets it right the first time. Not completely, at least. They only get a hang of it once they start applying it, over and over again. It’s our initial fear which hold us from making that initial step. Information can prepare us for what’s out there, however, it’s limited to factors which the informant has faced or is aware of. There are external factors which are beyond one’s control, are often not well thought of, but have great impact on one’s (practical) learnings; something like knowing when to apply break, how much force to apply, or how to manoeuvre in heavy traffic.

Either you start learning about it or you jump straight in to doing it, the focus should be on continuous improvement. There are different ways of doing things, likewise there are different ways of learning. You do something and have a look at it (analyse or self-assess), if you are convinced then others may be. Then you can discuss with other people and get their opinion (feedback). Self-assessment and feedback can serve the basis of any learning. Most important thing is to take one bit at a time. You lose track of it when you try to over load yourself with information, perhaps while multi-tasking or overzealous learning. Have patience, learn in smaller bits, and let your mind absorb the information; then practice your learnings in routine.

“Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” ~ Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

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6 Ways To Get Better At Soft Skills

According to Harvard Business School, an individual’s technical skills account for (nearly) 15% of his growth, whereas the remaining 85% (or so) is determined by his soft skills. While the technical skills define the type of work you do, the soft skills define the kind of person you are. Every non-technical work, to its simplest form, like the way you talk or the way you walk can be thought of as a soft skill. Few of the commonly used soft skills are time management, communication, presentation, and team work. There are many more which you can find on a job descriptions, speaking with a HR, or on the internet.

Every year, millions of students graduate from their respective universities; but not everyone is able to get a job. Various researchers have found that around 15-20% of the students (globally) graduating every year are employable.

So… what makes a handful of them tick while the others fuse?

Having studied from the same college, the batch of students graduating would have same information or skills. Of course, some of them would have a natural ability to perform well, but what makes them better is the ability to do more than what they have learnt technically. Think of a job like sales or marketing where you have the knowledge to collect data, but people who are able to connect with clients and present their data in a better way will be appreciated.

Is there any way I can learn or improve?

Definitely! And the best thing is you don’t need to go back to school or college. Naturally, these wouldn’t be easy, at times, or within your comfort zone. And, the first and foremost thing would need is an intent or willingness to learn and change. There are trainings provided by most of the organisations, if not then you can find incredible amount of study material online. But, before you search for course material you should be aware of areas which you want to improve upon. A good to way to do that is self-assessment and taking feedback from your peers and supervisors.

Trying to gulp it all at once could lead to a lost cause. Define certain goals around the skills you want to hone, and repeatedly practice them in your daily routine. Always remember, it’s not about changing others but you and you only. So, don’t force this upon others, however, finding a partner would put it on a fast track. Things we learn since childhood days are difficult to let go, and learning a new skill pushes us to do that. It’s like changing your behaviour, the way you perceive things, and the way you deal with a situation.

There would be times when you would want to quit, the easy way out; but remember it’s a need rather than a want. In order to progress in your career you need to get better at these. Any new skill would start with learning to self-manage.

“Man often becomes what he believes himself to be. If I keep on saying to myself that I cannot do a certain thing, it is possible that I may end by really becoming incapable of doing it. On the contrary, if I have the belief that I can do it, I shall surely acquire the capacity to do it even if I may not have it at the beginning.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi

Author speaks: I’m not here to change the world; I intend to make an impact on one soul at a time. If you like my work, please press Like, or better yet put a Comment; perhaps a feedback. However, the best appreciation of my work will be to Share this with your friends and your social circles (FB, Twitter, LinkedIn, G+, and others).

Thanks in advance!