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Clearview® Performance Systems brings you ... ... a Culture of Results & Engagement™

Managerial TIPS*

Proven High Value Activities (HVAs)

[ *Techniques/Insights/Practical Solutions ]

Here's the next in our series of weekly managerial TIPS (Techniques, Insights, and Practical Solutions)
to help you better engage your team in the activities that lead to higher performance.

CORE Bites Issue #44

Should You be More Autodidactic? (Hint: Your answer should be YES!)

I've been fortunate to have met some very smart people in my life. I'm not defining "smart" by IQ standards but, instead, by how worldly and well-rounded they are; by how quickly they can assimilate and process new information; by how creative they are in solving problems; by the Swiss Army Knife-like wisdom and intellect they bring to every situation.

The fascinating correlation I've discovered along the way is the vast majority of these individuals are autodidacts—self-taught.

This doesn't mean they didn't attend schools of higher learning or receive other types of formal instruction in their past. No, I'm referring to the fact that these individuals understand the power of expanded learning and that they—alone—own this responsibility. They're insatiably curious; they intentionally extract every ounce of learning that's available from every opportunity they have at work and in life; they strategically seek out new experiences to broaden their perspective and understanding. These individuals understand that the best way to get ahead professionally is to learn ... a lot ... and never stop learning.

As simple a concept as this sounds, I'm observing an unhealthy trend inside the contemporary workplace. I'm noticing a dramatic decrease in the level of curiosity that exists; I'm finding that people seem to be more satisfied with just doing what it takes to get by instead of asking Second-Order questions or going the extra mile to seek the deeper answers.

While we can (easily) blame this phenomenon on the pace of life; on the demands on our time; on the myriad things we need to juggle; or on the distractions we have all around us—the "I'm too busy to learn" syndrome—that doesn't change the reality that if you want to grow and advance professionally you will need to find ways to reverse this uncomfortable trend.

High Value Activity (HVA) Action Steps

The HVAs listed below are all part of a 'Learning Discipline' that autodidacts incorporate into their daily lives. My suggestion is to pick one as a start point and work it until it becomes a habit.

  • Reinvigorate Your Curious Mind: Apply a Shoshin mindset (open mind/beginner's mind). Look for new and different ways of doing things. Ask "What assumptions am I making about how I'm currently doing something that may no longer be valid?" Don't assume you know how everything works. Ask questions, listen and observe. Intentionally become comfortable with encountering the unfamiliar. Diversify your interests. Seek first to understand, not to explain. Discover what fascinates you (you may have to go looking). Do things you don't know how to do. Go to people, not Google (you might be surprised at what you learn!).
  • Become a 'Patient' Learner: Depending on the complexity of a topic you're trying to learn, learning something new can take time. And it can seem frustratingly slow as you grapple with new terminology, new systems, and new approaches to doing things. When you're self-learning, there's typically nobody by your side to help streamline the learning. In essence, you need to get comfortable with heading down the wrong path before you discover the correct path (paradoxically, this can actually EXPAND your learning). Becoming patient with your learning and, most importantly, with yourself is critical. Remember, there's no field of study that someone in the world hasn't managed to learn, starting from exactly the place where you are today!
  • Un-Passive-ize Your Mind: It doesn't take a lot of academic research to prove to us that most TV viewing renders our brain passive while reading activates our imagination, our creativity, and our intellect. Sadly, the number of people who do not read a single book in a given year has tripled and now only approximately 19% of adults read on a daily basis (with an average of 17 minutes of reading per day). What's disturbing is—during this same time period—television viewing for adults has increased to 5 hours and 57 minutes per day. So if you want to really learn ... hit the books! But if you think this sounds expensive, it doesn't have to be. Once you've decided on something you'd like to learn, take a look online at the used book area and for a couple of dollars you'll be able to gain access to a collection of reference manuals and top books that will serve to either answer your complex questions, expand your thinking, or simply refresh your knowledge.
  • Give Yourself a Deadline or a Goal: It pays to schedule time for your learning. Having books or articles or top websites bookmarked doesn't do you any good if you don't discipline yourself to focus on reading, synthesizing, digesting, and, most importantly, implementing your knowledge. I have a goal of one business book per week. Do I always make it? Absolutely not. But by having this goal, I read a lot more books than I would otherwise. So what can you fit in? Is it one book a month? One book every quarter? Regardless, any goal you choose (and every book you read) will leave you indelibly different ... and improved!

I'd love to hear how this HVA works for you!

Neil Dempster, PhD, MBA
RESULTant™ and Behavioral Engineer

Quote of the Week

"A self-taught person looks at the big picture with an open mind; they explore everything. They investigate themselves uncovering what is no longer taught."

— Efrat Cybulkiewicz —