A few days after I turned 50, I was in a local cafe picking up a coffee when I bumped into a friend who was leaving. He loudly greeted me with a "Happy 50th Birthday, Old Man!"
His greeting was so loud that everyone in the cafe looked up and smiled.
While I waited in the queue to order my coffee, a spritely older woman in front of me turned around and, with a smile and a wink, said:
"You're only old if you stop learning. Happy birthday."
I smiled back at her and thanked her for her kind words and didn't think much of it until later that day, a quote popped up on my Twitter feed from Henry Ford:
“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young.”
Hearing the same message twice in just a few hours made me stop and think - and I realised just how true it was.
The link between Learning and Momentum
As I look back on my 50 years, there have been numerous times when I've felt a bit stuck or stagnant.
A common factor between many of these times was that I'd stopped being intentional about learning.
Conversely, as I think about those times and what pulled me out of being stuck, I often threw myself back into learning something new that got me moving again and helped build momentum in my life.
In some instances, the learning happened in a formal sense (school/university), but often, it was informal learning through reading, conversation, Youtube or other means.
- In my teens, I threw myself into learning about photography (through a subject at school, photography magazines and experimentation).
- In my early 20s, I threw myself into a new course of study (a degree in Theology).
- In my mid-20s, I threw myself into learning about communication (through a course and reading many books on the topic)
- In my early 30s, I threw myself into learning about blogging (through watching others and lots of experimentation).
- In my 40s, I threw myself into learning about podcasting (through an online course and asking friends questions)
- Lately, I've thrown myself back into learning more about different types of photography and using Photoshop (by doing some online courses and Youtube).
The Benefits of Learning
Henry Ford and the woman in the coffee shop are probably onto something. There is plenty of research that seems to point to the benefits to our minds from learning.
But from my experience, learning can have flow-on benefits. I, for one, have found that learning:
- seems to lift my mood
- has built confidence
- has led to new opportunities in business and employment
- has led to new social contacts and interaction
- helps keep me relevant in my work
- has put me in a position to help others
- has led to a sense of accomplishment and pride
There are many benefits of learning, but once we leave school and then for some university, some of us fail to be intentional about this important area of our lives.
I love this quote from B.B. King
“The beautiful thing about learning is that nobody can take it away from you.”
While there are times when things happen to us outside of our control - learning is something that we can choose to do and which, once we have it, can't be taken from us.
Particularly in the world we find ourselves in - there are many free opportunities for learning - literally at our fingertips online!
Prompt: Learn Something New
- it might be learning a new skill.
- it could be gaining theoretical knowledge in a particular area.
- it might be learning a new perspective on a topic you are familiar with but only see one side of.
- It could be anything!
Of course, there are many ways to learn. It may be through:
- reading a book
- listening to a podcast
- watching a video online
- enrolling in a short or long course of study
- picking the brain of someone
- doing an experiment
- you could do it in any number of ways!
Once you have set a learning goal for this week - drop by our Facebook group to let us know what you're going to do.
What will you learn this week?
“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” ― Dr. Seuss
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