What is learning?

The dictionary defines learning as “acquisition of knowledge or skills through experience, study or being taught.”

I don’t agree.  That definition doesn’t go far enough.

Acquisition of knowledge and skills doesn’t mean much without action. If you never change your behavior, have you really learned?

We all “know” that we should eat right, exercise often and get enough sleep and hydration. But have we really learned this if we never change our behavior?

Today’s media has seen an explosion of information as entertainment.

You can “learn” cooking, home remodeling, medicine, yoga and how to play piano on TV, Facebook and YouTube. We can all DIY everything!

(Note: just make sure you take me to a real doctor when I have a broken leg.)

I believe that to learn is to change.

The change happens from the inside at first. There’s a shift in perspective, understanding and mindset. A new mental model emerges.

A new possibility has come into view. Perhaps one that was not known before, or impossible to even understand.

Then change happens in action and behavior.

Learning=behavior change.

Let’s say you want to learn budgeting.

We all know we should live within our means, spend less frivolously, track and reduce expenditures, and save something for the future. But, knowing and doing are two separate things. It’s the difference between discovery and truly learning.

“Knowing” that I need a budget doesn’t mean that I’ve learned to create and use a budget.

“Knowing” that I want to continually expand my abilities as a musician, teacher, chef, swimmer, whatever… is just the start.

Even learning a new fact each day doesn’t mean much.

Only when you take the new discovery and change your actions will it lead to new outcomes.

I’ve always been a curious person, which leads me to seek new discoveries. From there, I may want to go further if the path aligns with my personal values and mission.

Or maybe I’ll do it just for fun.

This summer, I’ve been teaching my teenage son to drive. He’s so eager to do this. I’m cringing and worried sick. But, I want this to be a great experience for him. (I have pretty much blocked my own memories of my father teaching me to drive. It was definitely not pleasant.)

So we have been seeking large parking lots to practice in. Knowing how to parallel park is very different than doing it. Like playing piano, it takes practice.

The same can be said about teaching or parenting.

You can practice and get better.

First, you need some reflection on what you are doing and how it’s going.

“Without reflection, there can be no growth.”

So, in the last days of summer, I encourage you to go beyond discovery and truly seek to learn something new. Maybe it’s through one of my trainings, or something completely different.

What’s it going to be?

Let me know. I’m rooting for you!

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