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Learning to learn

Olomana Loomis ISC promotes a culture of constant learning. In fact, in all of our recruitment efforts, we specifically ask for candidates who are “lifelong learners” or who have a “love of learning.” Why are we looking for people who are still “learning?” Shouldn’t we look for people who already know it all so that they can perform immediately?

The fact is, it’s not so much what you are learning that we are interested in, but the habit of learning that is most attractive to this employer. Why do we love learners? Learning is a skill – much like playing the piano is a skill. If you have a well-trained piano player, you can give him any kind of sheet music and he can play it – classical, jazz or contemporary. If we can find a prospective employee with a passion and skill for learning, then it is just a matter of providing the right content for that candidate to become a technically skilled employee. Take a well-trained learner, and he can learn how to manipulate a database, use SmartSheets, or build a financial projection model.

So how can we develop this skill of learning? In my training of the Anat Baniel Method, which is an application of the science of neuroplasticity on children and adults who have limitations due to brain injury or neurological disorders, I learned about Nine Essentials that are needed in order to make lasting changes in the brain – to learn.  A few of those essentials are:

  1. Awareness: Too often we function through the day on “autopilot” and in that state of mind, learning can be impaired. More than being “awake” or “knowing,” awareness in this context is being fully present in yourself, your surroundings and the events going on around you. We can get into this state of mind by asking ourselves questions – what am I feeling? What am I doing? Why did that happen?
  2. Enthusiasm: Enthusiasm doesn’t always mean cheerleader-type screaming and jumping. Enthusiasm can be simple joy and pride in an accomplishment. It is not a reward for an action – like praise or accolades from your peers – but an internal acknowledgment of success. This kind of response to an event brings the brain’s attention to it as if to say, “Ooh – this is nice! This is important! Whatever I did to get this, let’s do it again!”
  3. Imagination & Dreams: Imagination is a truly remarkable skill – through imagination we are literally able to create something out of nothing! Don’t let thoughts of limitations interfere with your dreams – allow yourself the freedom to make the impossible possible. Allow yourself time to imagine and dream, and you will find that ideas and solutions will come easier to you.
  4. Flexible Goals: It is important to have goals – otherwise, how will we know where we are going? But being flexible with those goals means being mindful of the present situation and seeing opportunities that might otherwise escape us if we are too focused on the goal on the horizon. For example, if your goal was to have your client interviewed by the local newspaper, but a reporter from the New York Times called you because he wanted to quote your client in his article as an expert in his field, you wouldn’t decline even though that publication wasn’t your goal!

The brilliant thing about the human brain is that the more we learn, the more capacity to learn we actually develop. Our brain is never “full” – its ability to perform doesn’t start to wane until we stop learning.

Mika Keauli‘i is Director of Finance of Olomana Loomis ISC, an award-winning integrated marketing, brand and business consulting firm based in Honolulu, Hawai‘i.
For more information, contact: mika@olomanaloomisisc.com

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