Lifelong learning is a concept or really a process that has generated much enthusiasm in the business management world. In the twenty-first century, I believe we will see more remarkable leaders and managers who develop their skills through lifelong learning, because a rapidly changing environment is increasingly rewarding that pattern of growth. In an ever-changing world, we can never learn it all, even if we keep growing into our nineties. As the rate of change increases, the willingness and ability to keep developing become central to career success for individuals and economic success for organizations. Many successful leaders and manager I have known did not begin their careers with the most money or the most intelligence. They were successful nevertheless because they we able to out grow their rivals. They developed the capacity to handle a complex and changing health care environment. They grow to become unusually competent in advancing organizational transformation. The best of them learned to become leaders.
Just as health care organizations are going to be forced to learn, change, and constantly reinvent themselves in the twenty-first century, so will increasing numbers of individuals. So what are the habits of life long learners There is no single formula, and individuals accomplish it through varying paths, often with more than one major career change. However, if I had to identify the five most important characteristics of life long learners, it would be the following:
Risk taking: Willingness to push oneself out of comfort zones
Â· Humble self-reflection: Honest assessment of successes and failures, especially the latter.
Â· Solicitation of opinions: Aggressive collection of information and ideas from others
Â· Careful listening: Propensity to listen to others
Â· Openness to new ideas: Willingness to view life with an open mind.
The beauty is that that listening with an open mind, trying new things, or reflecting honestly on successes and failures do not require a high IQ, a Ph.D., or a privileged background. But beware of the simplicity of these habits. There is a major reason why so few individuals develop them â€” in the short term, its painful. Risk taking brings failure as well as success. Honest reflection, listening solicitation of opinions, and openness bring bad news and negative feedback as well as interesting ideas. In the short term, life is generally more pleasant without failure and negative feedback.
Effective lifelong learners overcome a natural human tendency to shy away from or abandon habits that produce short-term pain. By surviving difficult experiences, they build up certain immunity to hardship. With clarity of thought, they come to realize the importance of both these habits and lifelong learning. But most of all, their goals and aspirations facilitate the development of humility, openness, willingness to take risks, and the capacity to listen.
The very best lifelong learners and leaders Iâ€™ve known seem to have high standards, ambitious goals, and a real sense of mission in their lives. Such goals and aspirations spur them on, put their accomplishments in a humbling perspective, and help them endure the short-term pain associated with growth. Their aspirations help keep them from sliding into a comfortable, safe routine characterized by little sensible risk taking, a relatively closed mind, a minimum of reaching out, and little listening.
Why are we dwelling on this Most of the successful white-collar workers in the past hundred years found reputable companies to work for early in life and then moved up narrow functional hierarchies while learning the art of management. This traditional career path did help people learn, but only in narrow functional spheres of influence. One had to grasp more and more knowledge about accounting or engineering, but little else. Most people believe successful 21st century careers will be more dynamic. People wonâ€™t be moving linearly through hierarchies as frequently and fewer and fewer people will be doing the same job the same way over long periods of time. To put this in practical terms, in 1980, the average individual spent 21 years working for the same company. By the year 2000, that statistic was reduced to a maximum of 7 years in any one company. Thus, we will need to be more flexible, adaptable, and master more volatile career paths to reach success. The lifelong learning plan is a mechanism for you to define your pathway to such success in the 21st century health care industry.
Please use the outline below to develop and present your plan. The limit is seven pages (plus any attachments).
Why are you doing this
Develop a plan and specific steps to execute the plan in order to stay current with
developments and issues in both general management and health care administration.
The time horizon for this exercise is the next ten years (through 2021).
What is (or will be) the guiding management book that provides the basis for your understanding/approaches/actions as a manager
What is (or will be) the guiding health care book that provides the basis for your understanding/approaches/actions in the health care arena
GOALS: (Limit to 4-6 major goals)
In terms of your learning over the next 10 years, what specific things do you want to be different in this period that will help you stay current and on top of your field
The specific things you will work on to help you achieve each goal.
The specific steps that you will take to achieve each strategy (relatively short- term actions)
How will you know if you are succeeding and achieving expected outcomes How will you spot impending failure or the need to adjust either strategies or tactics
Identify the general environment (e.g., information technology), professional and personal factors that will help/hinder your success with the plan