Continual Learning

By Kathy Miller on August 30th, 2014

iStock_000006329707_SmallAs we were reviewing our website statistics, it came to our attention that visitors were quite regularly looking for an old article that we had published in Purchasing Today many years ago.  The topic was   Continual Learning .  We had removed the article from our site because it was old!  However, in doing so, we may have neglected to recognize its relevance today even though twelve years have passed since we wrote it.  Over the decade plus since its publication, change has accelerated at a breathtaking pace.  The only way that any of us can hope to deal with it, if not embrace it, is to commit ourselves to  incorporating learning into our lives as a high priority.  Of course none of us can ever stay on top of all of the information that is available to us these days.  However, when we speak of continual learning, we are talking about more than merely accessing information.  Our version of continual learning involves:

  • Reflecting upon and   learning from our daily experiences. Yes we are all quite busy.  And many people, tasks and obligations compete for our time each day.  However, we cannot learn efficiently and effectively unless we set aside time to think about our experiences and take away lessons learned from these reflections.


  • Engaging our intellectual curiosity intellectual defined by Princeton’s Wordnet as “using the mind creatively.”  In a world that presents us with new challenges every day if not every hour, who, among us, can afford to neglect creative thinking?


  • Developing awareness of the ways in which our own superstitions and blind spots may be preventing us from understanding our world and the people who populate it. Of course reality will also be somewhat subjective.  But most of us could benefit from sorting out our facts from our opinions and assumptions.


  • Dedicating ourselves to becoming self-aware — not navel gazing self-aware, but rather, understanding our own motivations, behavioral tendencies and interpersonal styles and how others perceive us.


  • Learning about others with whom we interact through actual inquiry rather than through our own assumptions, stereotypes and other potentially faulty processes.  Rather than either jumping to conclusions about others, or waiting until we have the results of some superficial and probably erroneous personality assessment about others, why don’t we just ask them questions that will help us understand their styles, preferences and motivations.

Upon reflecting on continual learning today, we have decided that it is more relevant than ever.  And that our best chances of surviving and succeeding in this complicated world we live in is to dedicate ourselves to it!