I recently heard a person say that anybody who is truly successul is pratically addicted to learning and improving. Couch the idea in whatever terms you want. “Personal Development”, “Self Improvement”, “Getting Better”, or even “Continual Pratice”. They all mean the same thing, consistant dedication to increating your abilities and knowledge so you are a better person than you were.
One of the best ways to engage in personal development is to take 15 to 30 minutes every morning and study a specific topic. Using the SQ3R method, you can quickly pick up on the concepts and high points and then dive deeper into those areas you are interested in.
Another way to accelerate your aquisition of knowledge is to write about it. Writing forces you to distill what you have learned and communicate it in a logical form. Before taking the time to write what you have learned, you may have a good idea about the topic, but writing forces you to really digest the material in order to communite it clearly.
There are another two benefits to writing about what you have learned:
- You can go back a review what you thought about the topic at the time and see if there are any gaps
- You are forced to review the material in preparation for the writing process. You end up learning it more in depth.
One last way to reinforce what you have learned is to teach it to somebody else. Just as with writing, you need to know the material in order to teach it. If there are gaps in your knowledge you will quickly find out when you reach that spot when you are taching it. There very few instances which are more embarrasing than pretending to be an expert in a topic and then having to admit to gaps in what you know. This can be mitigated, however, if you freely admit before teaching a class that there may be instances where you knowlege is not a deep as it could be and that when you and the class find those spots, you will make a note of it, research it, and get back to the class. Once again learning and increasing your knowlege of the topic.
Self improvement is not all knowlege, writing and teaching however. Learning new skills and talents can greatly increase ones ability to succeed. Learning a new skill, such as cooking, massage, or dance can greatly increase your ability to relate to other people and grow your network of aquantanices. Even if you never use that skill again, you could increase your ability to succeed simply becasue of the people you end up interacting with.
On a personal note, I have been involved in a martial art of over fifteen years and have rubbed shoulders with a number of people I would not have normally met in the course of my life. My life has been enriched by these associations and I occasionally see some of these poeple in random locations. For example, I was at the Salt Lake Comic-Con about a year ago and ran into one of the people I had met through Aikido. We talked for a while and caught up on some of what was going on in his life. It was a plesant reunion and something that would not have happened if I had not been involved in that activity.
You can find classes offered by many universities, community colledges and city recreation centers in your area. If you don’t have access to any of those, than you could consider an online class provided by Udemy, Coursera, or Instructure to name a few. Some universities even provide all their class material online. Apple has put many of their WWDC lectures and classes on iTunes and there are universities, such as Harvard and Stanford in there as well. There are also some university courses online which have put their courses online for free, such as MIT.
There are lots of different topics and things out there to learn. The biggest problem isn’t the access to the information, but rather being focused in your persuit of what you want to learn. But that’s a topic for another time.