Being a Grown-Up Means Being a Learner (and You Are a Grown-Up Aren’t You?) by Meggin McIntosh, PhD

By meggin@meggin.com
Dec 10th, 2013
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I’m fairly certain that we don’t have tweens and teens reading this blog – so I am going to start with the assumption that you are an adult.  Let’s examine the top ten reasons that being a learner is part of being a grown-up.

  1. Knowledge is doubling… REALLY FAST!  You’ve heard the statements that knowledge is doubling every two years.  No, wait!  It’s every year and a half.  Gosh, I think it’s every three months.  Guess what?!  It doesn’t matter how quickly it is doubling, but every moment you aren’t learning, you are getting further behind.  And surely you would rather stay current.  That is what grown-ups do.
  2. Four levels of learning that are worth considering as an adult:
    • Unconscious incompetence (You don’t even know you don’t know; this is not a good place to be).
    • Conscious incompetence (You know you don’t know something; fabulous place to be and a classic learner mindset!  You are ready to learn.)
    • Conscious competence (You have learned something new and must be mindful and deliberate about applying that knowledge; excellent!)
    • Unconscious competence (You have rehearsed and used your new knowledge so well that it has now become an automatic part of your practice and thinking; you will never lose these skills or facts.)

What levels of learning do you want to be moving between and among?

  1. Your clients, customers, and students expect you to be current and conversant in your areas of expertise.  They don’t expect you to know everything (no one does), but they do expect to see evidence of your growth and learning at all times.
  2. There are young people observing you – constantly – and they may live in your house.  You are mindful of the many ways you model adult behavior for them.  Make sure you’re also demonstrating how learning is a positive and necessary enterprise for adults – and that it is a worthwhile investment your time, energy, attention, and money.
  3. Who wants to work with a know-it-all?  You don’t, which is why you support learning experiences for your colleagues and employees.  And guess what?  Your colleagues don’t want to work with a know-it-all either and if you aren’t modeling your learning mindset, you come across as just that person.  Not good.
  4. No matter what your learning style or preference, you can find amazing opportunities to sate your appetite for knowledge, skills, and ideas.  Make sure you have examined yourself and the way you learn so that you know what your preference is – and then seek out learning experiences that match your style, when possible.
  5. Invest your time wisely in learning endeavors.  There are books that don’t deserve to be read, webinars that make you want to scream, courses that insult you and everyone else in the class.  As an adult, expect to be respected by those who design the learning event and excuse yourself if that isn’t happening.  Surely you don’t have time to waste….
  6. Expect to invest precious resources including time, energy, and attention in learning.  You want to grow and change and be challenged.  That doesn’t happen when you are spoon-fed information, best practices, and challenging concepts.  Be a grown-up.
  7. Accessing opportunities to learn ANYTHING is stunningly simple in this decade.  Grown-ups eschew excuses.
  8. Mix free learning events with paid learning opportunities.  To expect that you will access the highest levels of information, insight, knowledge, and perspective for free is just silly.

Many aspects of being a grown-up are pretty tough – and the good news is this:  Whatever is challenging for you right now is solvable – if you keep learning.  Hooray for being an adult and acting on this belief!

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