This is the day, my friends. This is the day to sow the seeds that our ancestors planted thousands of years ago.
Today, there are plenty of certificate programs, courses, and seminars available. You come across “personal development,” “lifelong learning,” and “continuous education” ads every time you read a newspaper, website, or magazine. Unless you gaze through the window, you may believe that the world is a wonderful place where everyone is fully aware and realizing their full potentials. There are no unhappy workers, who are not satisfied with their jobs yet do not know what they want to do. Doing what you love and satisfying your curiosities are like falling in love, as if you have butterflies in your stomach. Here, in such a world, there are butterflies in everybody’s stomach.
In the real world, these love affairs last for only a few nights or a few weeks at most. You are certainly curious, so you try to keep up with the contemporary trends. Somebody mentions NLP, and you rush there. Someone else mentions, “effective listening”, and you rush there without even listening to what your inner voice tells you. The “certificates” section of your CV gets longer. You should have the enthusiasm of a new recruit, but instead you feel a little dulled: you must admit this. You take notes all the time, with your course folder in one hand and a slight restlessness within.
What remains from the notes you have taken? Is there anything you put into practice? Do you keep your notes in a big folder in your office, inside a drawer at home, or inside notebooks? Or do you realize them, so they are reflected in your actions? When trainers introduce themselves, it should be like a wedding ceremony from a Hollywood movie. The trainer should walk into the venue and ask, “If anybody is not quite sure that they need this course, or if anybody has not questioned the relevance of this training in their personal or work life, they should leave this room right now.” What would you do: Would you stay or leave?
If you have not learned anything from a course, it is usually the trainer’s fault. He or she failed to teach some of the trainees, but maybe, in reality, only some people were in the class to learn. You are like pupils who sit at the front of the classroom and take notes without questioning, whereas they are like pupils who head home right after the geography class to check the world atlas. They are astonished by the size of the world and curious about rain forests. They may grow up, but they never lose their enthusiasm or curiosity. To them learning is an art rather than a duty. They are quite aware of being responsible for their own development. This is why they listen to their inner voices before anybody else’s. Their inner voices tell them what they need and how to use the knowledge they have acquired.
The Art of Learning
If learning is an art, it has to be practiced with niceties. In other words, you must first learn how to learn. Just as you should practice every day when learning how to play the piano, learning requires discipline, and you cannot afford to be negligent. To be in the process of lifelong learning means to turn your life into a learning fair. On the one hand, you keep up with changing conditions. On the other hand, you maintain every item of knowledge and skill you learn. “What should you acquire?” equates to, “How would you like to live?” Once like this, you will have nothing in common with the people who work in offices, counting, reporting, and rushing around in panic. You will simply enjoy knowledge and know that learning is the most enjoyable thing there is.
In order to perpetuate learning, you should linger for a moment and ask yourself, “What is it that I want?” Most of us keep questioning ourselves, but only some of us actually focus, consider, and derive a conclusion. Even fewer people go further than this, as that may require rocking the boat and starting all over again. We envy the successful ones as if they are aliens. The journey of learning begins with questions like:
What does a better life mean to me?
What kind of knowledge and skills do I need to live this life?
How can I gain this knowledge?
How can I practice what I have acquired in my life?
Suppose you worked in an important department at a major company for years. You were born to an established order. Your competencies were apparent, and your responsibilities were restricted from the start. Now, you have already practiced them all, and each day you just come and go. You have become so accustomed to stagnancy that the ideas and enthusiasms of new recruits annoy you. You brush people off by saying things like, “This is how we handle situations.” Are you happy? Really? It seems as if you are just killing time.
Imagine if you started each day with a bang. Imagine that your heart beats like a drum when you think of what you learned. Imagine yourself gaining new viewpoints, approaching issues from new perspectives and solving them. Imagine yourself living a better life constantly. Imagine you have sought and found your inner goals. You are no longer idling and drifting. Imagine yourself being enthusiastic and focused. Imagine the relief of knowing what you want. Imagine a life where you have integrated knowledge into it. Imagine everything around you improving as you progress. The more you progress, the more you will realize that this journey will never end. You will experience the joy of curiosity as a child would. You will see how the more eager you are, the more you learn.
Do not expect a teacher to ignite these feelings in you. Just remember that you should bear full responsibility—just as in all other areas of life. Abandon all labels and focus on asking, “What is it that you want?” Be aware of all the phases of your learning process. Absorb everything you acquire in the classroom. Avoid learning things “parrot fashion,” because you can only flourish and blossom after internalizing the knowledge you gain. Each day ask yourself, “What have I learned?” and, “How will I use this knowledge?” Practice it immediately, and with each experience, your learning will become deeper.
Learning is a journey in itself, whether it happens in a crowded classroom or on a cramped solitary desk. It is an enjoyable journey for people that can only be initiated and sustained by their own desires.