NextGen Know-How: Why learning is overrated

Don’t just take in new ideas. Apply them.

by. Laurie J. Maddalena, MBA, CPCC, PHR

I’ve always loved to learn. I read almost every day and often push myself to get through as many books as possible. I consider myself a lifelong learner, but I sometimes find myself overwhelmed with information. I often struggle to keep up with the books, ideas, articles and resources there to improve my leadership and my life.

Up until a couple months ago, I thought learning was an important aspect of being a successful leader; the ability to consistently take in new and interesting ideas.

But all that changed.

I was participating in a program by Darren Hardy about increasing productivity, and he said something that changed the way I think about learning. Here is what he said:

“We need to stop learning, and start studying.”

This may not seem very profound, but it changed the way I look at personal development. Learning is about taking in new ideas, whereas studying is about applying those ideas. Studying is about using those ideas to change your leadership and your life. Instead of setting goals to learn more, the most successful leaders study concepts and ideas deeply and then apply the information to their leadership.

This has changed the way I take in new information. Instead of making it a goal to read a certain number of books in a year, I have eliminated that goal. I realized it is about what I do with the information, not the amount of information I take in. I could read 50 books a year and have some great knowledge in my brain, but not do much with it. Or I could read 10 books a year and really study them; really reflect on the information and how I can apply it to my leadership.

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