Everything I know now is because someone taught me.

This may seem like a statement of the obvious but think about this for a moment. Everything that you know today, everything that you do, the habits you’ve acquired, your ability to do things well, was likely taught to you by parents, teachers, coaches, friends, or colleagues.

You are intelligent, educated, and capable because of the people that assisted in your development.

Granted, you had to be willing to learn. You may be the type of person who is a learner by nature. Who questions things, researches information, looks for the facts, analyzes the data, and reads the books and journals.

Or you may be content with where you’re at. You say to yourself “I’m smart enough. I know enough. My knowledge will carry me through my life.” To use a metaphor and add a cautionary note – if you keep using the same saw over and over without sharpening it, the blade will get dull. Think of that blade as your mind, intelligence, judgment and the knowledge you possess. Without sharpening your skills on a regular basis, you will fall behind in your job, competencies, and life skills.

Here’s a four-step process relating to how we learn and grow.

Consider the descriptions for each of the levels in the diagram relative to where you are today and in light of what you may require advancing.

Under the heading of Unconscious Competence, think of things that you do daily, such as driving your car, using your phone and appliances around the home. We operate at a level that is referred to as unconscious competence. That’s how we get through life. That’s how we maneuver our way through situations. The only problem with that is if we don’t periodically check to see if we are still doing things in the most effective manner, we might be back in step one – Unconscious Incompetence. Yes, it is possible to get back to the position of not knowing what we don’t know because things have changed and advanced around us.

Therefore, lifelong learning is essential to remain relevant, interesting, and appealing as a person, as a partner, and friend. If you fail to keep growing and gain fresh perspectives, you may have a blind spot.

Sourcing your information.

Be open-minded, objective and evaluate your sources.  Are they credible? Do they speak with authority and knowledge? What is their reputation and track record? Are they self-proclaimed experts or do others provide them with testimonials and endorsements? What about their clients or people that have worked for them, studied under them, or played with them on a team. The opinions of those who speak highly of them and show respect based on their accomplishments are worth listening to.

Avoid the Echo Chamber.

Are you in an echo chamber? Are you insulating yourself by associating only with people that hold the same views you do? That may reveal fear and insecurity.  It takes courage, intelligence, and confidence to be objective and willing to learn and consider a different viewpoint. It’s easy to put people down, label or even mock them.  Alternatively, do you seek those who have a different perspective or opinions for fresh insight and differing viewpoints.

Discover the Blind Spot.

Do you have people that speak truth into your life? Metaphorically, are you sitting in a mud puddle and splashing away, or are you in a pool where you’re growing, where your feet don’t touch the bottom and you have room for exploration?

There is perhaps no greater time in the history of humanity for opportunities for personal growth, development and learning than today.

One of my favorite sayings is – are you a can’t or a won’t? If there’s something that you can’t do, but with the right attitude, determination, and effort, you can learn it. You can become better.

On the other hand, if you won’t respond to or consider different perspectives, the scenery won’t change. You’ll be stuck on the same road, potholes, and all.

Only you can select if you will grow or won’t – choose carefully.

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