This week has that definite back to school feeling, even if you don’t have kids in the school system or aren’t in the formal education system yourself.
I’ve learnt three things this week:
- What my car alarm sounds like
- That my car zapper actually has a key inside it
- How to fix the back door locks when you’ve pushed something that meant they wouldn’t close
Trouble is, none of those were what I actually wanted to learn. But they’re all quite useful to know. Although I still haven’t worked out how to turn off the child locks.
Sometimes the route is as valuable as the destination
There’ll be lots of focus in the coming weeks on curriculums and targets. Which is fine if you’re working towards GCSEs, but when you’re running a business, then there is no test, no approved framework for everything you need to know.
Even if you do all the professional qualifications going, attend the best business schools, aren’t there going to be gaps in your knowledge?
Even if they add a new seminar on business during a pandemic, it won’t prepare us for the next one.
So how are we supposed to learn what we need to know?
Every day really is a school day
Which will depress school kids everywhere. But we can usually find something in every day that we didn’t know the day before. Some may be useful (I suspect the hidden key might be one I need in the future), and some may not have any immediately apparent benefit.
Like the fact that I still remember what male and female ferrets are called from pub quiz days in my 20s. I’ve never needed the information since, except to illustrate to people the kind of random stuff my brain holds onto. But I can’t remember where I’ve just put down the house keys.
There’s more than one style of learning
Although sometimes you’d think that wasn’t true based on school experiences. Thankfully neurodiversity is being recognised in schools and work, so learning through different approaches is becoming more common.
We can apply the same to our own learning. It’s not just a choice between formal classrooms or sitting by Nelly learning on the job. One of the positives of the pandemic is the huge variety of classes that are now available online, either live or prerecorded.
But not everyone loves video or wants more screen time after a day of Zooms.
Making our own curriculum
I’m going to Oxford soon, to study. But not in a way that will end up with letters after my name. I’m going to the Museum of Natural History for the Meat the Future exhibition. I’m also going to Brooks University to visit the Antonio Carluccio archive and collection.
Of course, it’s going to be fun, but who says learning can’t be fun? It’s all directly relevant to what I do, and even if it weren’t, there would still be value in it.
Next week I’m focusing on the latest Google update and its implications on what content needs to succeed within the new search engine environment. Not so much fun, still very relevant, but also something I’ll no doubt revisit many times. It’s like the maths of my own timetable, there with great regularity.
There’s more than one route
My (soon not to be a) teen and I have lots of conversations on what job they might do in the future. Many of which focus on the fact that their job might not exist currently. Or that it will evolve from something quite different.
That’s one of the reasons for me to keep our learning and reading broad-based. If you haven’t read Range by David Epstein, I highly recommend it for its challenge to the worldview that we must specialise and do so early on in our lives.
Ask others, but don’t be limited by others
I’m always intrigued by what courses/books/podcasts other people have found useful and really got value out of. The things where they learn stuff that at some point they’ve been able to put into practice.
They’re a good way to sift through the many options, but it does come with the warning that what works for them and their business won’t necessarily work for you. I know I’ve had podcasts recommended that some people have loved that have left me a bit cold.
There is no test
Running your own business doesn’t come with any test; there is no defined endpoint. Or not one defined by an external examining body.
Running our own businesses is about our own definitions of success, of pass or fail. I mean, I know the banks will have an interest in, and view on, our failure or success. But other than that, we define our own success.
Which means we define our own learning as well. And for me, it’s about enjoying a never-ending ramble around subjects I enjoy. And Google.
The essential part of back to school
I don’t care that I’m not going back to school. The best part of September was always the new stationery. And all good learning, or at least for me, needs a good notebook and good pens. Still a bit old school here in that respect.
What about you? Real notebook or stylo and tablet?