Learning Agility

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What is Learning Agility?

Learning agility is “the ability to figure out what to do when you don’t know what to do.”  That’s an interesting definition.  (Pause)  (Slower)  “Learning agility is “the ability to figure out what to do when you don’t know what to do.”  It’s the willingness to learn, to absorb information and, combine it with your previous experiences, to find solutions to problems you’ve never encountered before.

A simple example is – Wow, I’ve never seen that before.  What do I know about it?  How can I learn what else I need to know quickly?  What technique have I used in the past that could work, or that I can adapt, to solve this problem?  I know I’ll find a solution, so here it goes……

Some people are naturally learning agile and are able to absorb new information faster than average.  But research shows that everyone can improve their learning agility.  Here’s how.

  • Try New Things and do Old things new ways. Look for new experiences – build a birdhouse, cook an unusual meal, learn how to change the oil in your car, go to a museum and study the art, take your favorite saying or poem and translate it into another language. Have fun while you’re doing it.
  • When faced with a new task, try and find similarities between it and things you have done successfully in the past. If you put together a team with different skills last time, would it work on this new project?
  • Listen closely to new instructions. By devoting your full attention to listening, you are more likely to pick up clues that will help you when you get started.
  • Ask Questions. Teachers, peers, coworkers, and even bosses are usually happy to help you understand what’s required in a new venture.  If no one is available, try the internet.  Looking things up on the internet is a great way to learn things faster.
  • Be Open Minded. Calmly accept all feedback, both positive and negative.  Did you listen to other opinions?  Did you dominate the conversation?  Did you give everyone the opportunity to shine?  Use the feedback to find new ways to improve your performance.
  • Stay Positive. Some things take time.  You may fail along the way and have to start over.  Use what you learned, and try again.  Mohammed Ali, one of our greatest boxers, said:  “If my mind can conceive it, and my heart can believe it—then I can achieve it.”   Every major achievement started with an idea that someone believed in and was passionate about, and then devoted the time and effort that was necessary to succeed.

Become a person with learning agility.  Look for new experiences, thrive on problems and challenges, enjoy your sense of accomplishment, learn new skills, adapt and grow in our ever changing world.

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