As a child, I was not a big fan of being a student, at least the academic side. I thoroughly enjoyed the social, sports and extracurricular (outdoor clubs, scouts, etc.) activities but not the academic testing. I couldn’t wait until I was finished school and university so I could stop being a student and get on with my life.
This attitude changed during my third year of university when I discovered a career that blended my passions and skills. That career was in adventure-based experiential education, essentially utilizing the wilderness to teach personal growth and leadership development.
That was something I was excited about learning and still am. In my youth, I thought that when I finished my undergraduate degree, I would be done with being a student. Little did I know my student journey was just beginning and (hopefully) will stay with me till I die.
I don’t miss those written exams on my learning in my youth and to this day believe there are better ways for the school system to educate and evaluate education retention in kids, but that is a topic for another day.
“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young.” – Henry Ford
In the book ‘Ego is the Enemy’, Ryan Holiday points out three elements needed to become a lifelong learner and maintain a student mindset. Without realizing it, I have been fortunate to have these 3 elements for most of my adult life, I hope you can say the same.
The 3 elements to needed for ‘lifelong’ success are:
- Mentor Support: It is critical to have a relationship with people in your life that you respect and are at or near a place in their life having traveled a similar path you would like to recreate. You will learn from these mentors as they help guide you through low and high points with their teachings and will keep your ego in check when your accomplishments start to stack up.
- Peer Support: Connect with peers you respect and have similar career paths and interests. Observing these people will challenge and motivate you to achieve more. These peers can relate to your day-to-day challenges as they are likely experiencing them as well. Their viewpoints can be a refreshing perspective that can help solve many of your problems.
Mastermind groups are an excellent way to solicit mutually beneficial peer support. This article in Forbes explains Masterminds and gives 7 reasons you need to join one.
- Student Support: Being a teacher or mentor to promising up and comers in your field will not only help them it will help you in so many ways. Their technical and life questions will keep you sharp, as you will have to provide quality answers. Role modeling the behaviors you expect to see in your students helps you focus on living admirably and staying true to your core values. I believe the best teacher h an open mind often learns more about themselves from their students than the students learn from them.
“The teacher is the one who gets the most out of the lessons, and the true teacher is the learner.” – Elbert Hubbard
Having these 3 key people in your life will allow for open and honest continuous feedback of your skills, helping you get rid of your ego, doubt and laziness.
Life often shifts between feeling like you have it all figured out and like you know nothing at all.
Fortunately, every experience (whether good or bad) ends up teaching you something. The beauty of life is that there are opportunities around the corner to pick you up exactly when needed.
If you never stop learning, you will remember that the journey is a series of new starts that make you wiser and stronger each time.
Action: Identify at least 3 people in your life that could play the role of mentor, peer, and student to help you facilitate your life long learning and utilize them for their attributes noted above.
Until next time… Embrace the Adventure
Shawn Stratton is an international leadership and team building consultant, professional speaker, bestselling author and Ironman competitor.
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