INCREASE WHAT YOU LEARN ON THE FLY
According to the established learning and development model, 70% of your learning happens outside of the classroom, on the job — hence the importance of your ability to learn on the fly. To strengthen that ability, cultivate your curiosity and strive to become more open to new opportunities.
Cultivate curiosity by asking the right questions
Your ability to cultivate curiosity in your day-to-day work determines greatly how much you learn over the course of your career. Curiosity is about asking the right questions, so the authors provide the following list of example questions to help you “pique your interest and (thereby) set learning goals” in a range of business situations:
• “Ask someone who does work that is very different from your own: What is one thing you think people don’t know about what you do?”
• “Ask of subject matter experts: What is the most interesting project or idea you are working on now, or wish you were working on?”
• “Ask during meetings: What is valid about the dissenting viewpoint in the discussion?”
• “Ask when listening to a proposal for something new: How is this idea similar to other ideas that have worked? How is it different (Tip: try to focus on similarities before differences or why something won’t work.)”
• “Ask when you find yourself disagreeing with someone: What assumptions or models am I using that causes me to disagree in this situation?”
Assess your level of openness to change and growth
If you are like most people, you tend to have a strong, negative response to whatever is “new, unusual, or discomforting at work.” That kind of reaction is most likely, say the authors, “a sign that you are hanging on to an outdated way of thinking.” Use the following checklist to assess when your reluctance to let go of former strategies, processes, and approaches is interfering with your ability to embrace new opportunities:
• “Are people bringing up terms or concepts that are unfamiliar to me, and I counter with examples that are more than a few years old”?
• “Are the people I rely on the most at work up-to-date in their field? Do my closest associates challenge me to think in new ways and abandon old practices or tools?”
• “Do I tend to use the same arguments or stories year after year without retesting whether they are still valid?”
• “How am I working in different ways than I see people younger than me working? Is that difference because they are still new, or is it because I am not adopting new practices that might be more efficient?”
To read the article in full:
Based on Stretch: How to Future-Proof Yourself for Tomorrow’s Workplace by Karie Willyerd and Barbara Mistick (Wiley, February 2016) and an interview with Beverly Edwards , Senior Vice President Operations, First Transit Inc., March 2016.