Being the child of a teacher has deeply instilled the value of knowledge in me for as long as I can remember. My reading books in my spare time was encouraged, and going to varsity after high school was a given. I still remember our weekly trips to the library, and look back on those memories with fondness.
When Meg and I started hiring staff, we started monthly presentations with our team. Each month, our staff present on a topic or idea that they’ve researched and show the whole team what they’ve learnt. This has never been a chore or seen as an added workload, but rather as time well spent. We’ve all learnt so much from each other, and have actually been able to add to our service offerings as these new skills have been learnt.
But why is this continual learning so important?
It has been said that learning makes you a happier person. Reaching your set out goal, and accomplishing it gives you a sense of euphoria (and a metaphorical high-five from yourself).
Henry Ford also suggests that it keeps your brain “healthy”. According to him, “Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.”
Learning something new causes the brain to build connections between neurons, replacing some of those we lose over time. Basically, our brains get rewired and link when we learn. Have you ever considered how a baby learns to speak a language without any special classes or training? It’s a fact that our brains are the most valuable and marvellous organs in our bodies. So, surely we should show them a little more appreciation and care?
Reading is one of the easiest ways of learning new skills or gaining more knowledge on a topic. Some of the most successful people are advocates for continual learning too. Warren Buffett spends five to six hours per day reading five newspapers and 500 pages of corporate reports. Bill Gates reads 50 books per year. Mark Zuckerberg reads at least one book every two weeks. Elon Musk grew up reading two books a day, according to his brother. Oprah Winfrey credits books with much of her success: “Books were my pass to personal freedom.” Arthur Blank, co-founder of Home Depot, reads for two hours day. Dan Gilbert, self-made billionaire and owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers, reads for one to two hours a day.
So, now do you believe me? The common sense point here is simple. Successful people are lifelong learners. And so could you be.
The next time you think you’re “too busy” to learn a new skill, just remember that you’re falling behind and are in danger of creating an old brain. No-one likes an old brain. With all of the digital resources and online courses that we have at our fingertips, we really do not have an excuse not to expand our knowledge on a daily basis. Before you think I’m just sitting here, and preaching, I’m not. I am just as guilty of being in danger of having an old brain. But when the Black Friday sales hit on all online courses from Udemy, Meg and I hit back by purchasing 10 new courses for ourselves and our staff. And much to my Mom’s approval, I had only books on my Christmas list this year! Small steps … that’s all it takes.
Break your predictable routine of getting up, going to work, coming home and doing it all over again the following day. Wake up a little earlier, grab a cuppa, and get your reading on. Your neurons will thank you!