We are aware that digital and AI technologies are transforming the world of work. Today's workforce will need to continually learn new skills to stay relevant in their current jobs and also adapt as new occupations emerge. Research shows that the need for manual, physical skills and basic cognitive skills will decline and the need for technological, social, emotional, higher cognitive skills will grow. Irrespective of the skills to be mastered it is important to be willing to learn. The call to learn has never been more insistent. Even before the pandemic, lifetime employment was fading and there were demands that both executivesand employees must continually refresh their skills. The pandemic has only accelerated the urgency on skill building, either to keep up with thespeedof transformation or to manage the new ways of working.
Learning is a skill and a desire to learn is a mindset. Nurturing the mindset and harnessing the skills to develop learning can boost both personal and professional self and deliver a competitive edge. Unlearning and rethinking too is a big part of learning.
Many individuals struggle to learn and master topics that they are unfamiliar with. Developing a mindset to be a life long learner is key to long-term success in career.
Developing and nurturing this mindset will lead to individuals becoming intentional learners. (Agile Learners / Willingness to learn). We call this mindset a willingness to learn.
Openness is defined as a high level of acceptance to new experiences. Openness here, in the context of learning, comprises of traits such as curiosity, variety seeking, risk taking and being optimistic.
Focus is defined as concentration or centering of attention. Here, in the context of learning, Focus comprises of perseverance, self-starter, structured thought and tough-minded as traits.
Planning is defined as the act of thinking about the activities required to achieve a desired goal. Here, in the context of learning, Planning comprises of Forward Planning, Adaptability, Autonomous and reflection as traits.
How does one develop a desire to learn?
A desire to learn includes embracing the need to learn and also an intention to learn every moment, almost like a reflective automatic behavior. This requires two fundamental approaches - developing an openness mindset and being curious.
A popular study7 by Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck’s on mindsets suggests that people hold one of two sets of beliefs about their own abilities: either a fixed or a growth mindset.
A fixed mindset is the belief that personality characteristics, talents, and abilities are finite or fixed resources; they can’t be altered, changed, or improved. You simply are the way you are. People with this mindset tend to take a polar view of themselves—they consider themselves either intelligent or average, talented or untalented, a success or a failure. A fixed mindset stunts learning because it eliminates permission not to know something, to fail, or to struggle. Dweck says8 “The fixed mindset doesn’t allow people the luxury of becoming. They have to already be.”
In contrast, a growth mindset suggests that you can grow, expand, evolve, and change. Intelligence and capability are not fixed points but instead traits you can cultivate. A growth mindset releases you from the expectation of being perfect. Failures and mistakes are not indicative of the limits of your intellect but rather tools that inform how you develop. Cultivating a growth mindset can begin with shifting your inner dialogue from beliefs about your ability (a fixed mindset) to beliefs about your opportunities and needs (a growth mindset) — for example, from “I am terrible at being disciplined and focused” to “I need to put in more effort and practice to become focused.” Similarly, “I’m not good enough to be a manager” might become “I need some additional experience before I ca manage others.” Simple restatements have a dramatic impact on what you believe about your own abilities.
Curiosity, the engine of intentional learning, can be cultivated, even in those who don’t consider themselves naturally curious. Think of curiosity as hitting the start button of the engine. It gets your learning started.
Curiosity is inquisitiveness, a need to know more - an openness to ideas, and an ability to make connections between dissimilar concepts. Research tells us that curiosity matters for three primary reasons. First, inspiration is strongly correlated with an intrinsic desire to learn. Curiosity sparks inspiration. You learn more and more frequently because you are curious. Second, curiosity marks the beginning of a virtuous cycle that feeds your ability as a self-directed learner. Finally, research suggests that curiosity doesn’t diminish with age, so it can serve you at any point in your career. Although your learning methods will change over time, curiosity will keep the spark of motivation alive9
Three key components matter for learning -
Ability to learn - This depends on the cognitive intelligence
Intent / Willingness to learn - This depends on the behavior and personality of the individuals.
Awareness and overcoming the barriers to actual learning - The behavior and personality of the individual can be modified to overcome the barriers.
The key competencies that can measure ‘A Desire to Learn’ personality are given in detail in the framework that follows. These key competencies also provide insights on the barriers to actual learning which will serve as a strong input for individuals to start their learning journey.
Theories on learning describe the different perspectives on how individuals receive, process, and retain knowledge duringlearning. Cognitive, emotional, and environmental influences, as well as prior experience, all play a part in how understanding is acquired or changed and knowledge and skills retained.
Learning istheprocess of acquiring new understanding, knowledge, behaviors, skills, values, attitudes, and preferences1 Some learning is immediate, caused by a single event (e.g. beingbitten by a dog), but more often skills and knowledge accumulate from repeated experiences. The changes induced by learning often last a lifetime 2
Human learning starts at birth and continues until death as a consequence of ongoing interactions between people and their environment. Therefore making us lifelong learners.
The nature and processes involved in learning are studied in many fields, including educational psychology, neuropsychology, experimental psychology, pedagogy and andragogy. Research in such fields has led to the identification of various sorts of learning. For example, learning may occur as a result of classical conditioning, operant conditioning, habituation or as a result of more complex activities such as play, seen only in relatively intelligent animals 3 4
Learning may occur consciously or without conscious awareness. Learning that an aversive event can't be avoided nor escaped may result in a condition called learned helplessness 5
The question addressed here is not how the learning occurs but how open are we to learning.
Preferred Approach to learning / Area of Strength for learning - “FOCUS”
Result on ‘No Inclination to Learn’ - There are instances when you prefer not to learn. Please refer to your development report to understand in detail.
Each of us can become a lifelong learner / an intentional learner. We need to overcome a few barriers to do be able to do so.
We can categorise these barriers into three buckets / categories -
a)a barrier of the mindset
b)a barrier of practice & distraction
c)a barrier of foresight & reflection
These are not alien or as hard as they sound. We may already be aware of them and can be working towards them. This development report helps you get clarity by i) identifying them and naming them accurately. ii) Once we identify the barriers it is easy to understand and recognise them and iii) work towards removing them.
The assessment already has done the first step for you by identifying your barriers. Let’s take a look at them and the tips that can help you overcome these barriers.
Barriers To Learning
Barrier of the Mindset
Seeking new ideas and novel experiences and the ability to re-think our opinions, perceptions is the engine of intentional learning. It can be cultivated, even by those individuals who don’t consider themselves naturally curious. Curiosity gets your learning started. Curiosity is awareness, an openness to ideas, and an ability to make connections between different concepts.
Curiosity provides inspiration which is strongly correlated with an intrinsic desire to learn.
Curiosity feeds your ability as a self-directed learner.
Curiosity doesn’t diminish with age, so it can serve you at any point in your career. Although your learning methods will change over time, curiosity will keep the spark of motivation alive. A few practices to strengthen your curiosity is provided in the worksheet. We would advice you work with worksheets to help you in this learning journey.
Barriers to Practice
Practice is absolutely critical to learning. Trying, failing, refining your approach, and trying again is at the heart of building all skills. Many of us believe that practice makes perfect, but it is important to know what to practice.
Doing things over and over does little to build your skills. Instead ‘deliberate practice’ creates expertise. Deliberate practice is a focused effort to master a skill at the right level of challenge / difficulty. In other words, effective practice is aimed at the skill gaps just beyond your current set of skills. The practice is not too hard, not too easy, and not too repetitive of what you can already do, but at just the right level of challenge, focused on precisely the skill you need.
Please refer to worksheets to get you started on understanding how to practice deliberately.
Barriers of Foresight
Learning is fruitful when it is purposeful and is to achieve a goal. Please refer to the worksheets that help you set goals and work towards them. Having a foresight helps you see the pros and cons of decisions and actions that you are planning to take. It is critical in helping you reduce errors and plan accurately towards the right goal.
Barriers to Reflection
Metacognition, or reflecting on your own thinking, plays a critical role in all cognitive tasks, including your ability to reflect on and learn from situations. Reflection is a diagnostic skill that helps you evaluate yourself and determine your learning needs. It helps you understand your past performance and sheds light on what you can do to improve - what to do and what not to do as well.
Reflecting is helpful at 3 stages - before, during, and after a task. Reflection leads to self-efficacy and that to confidence. Confidence builds resolve to take on increasingly hard challenges, which strengthen existing skills and build new ones. Equally important, reflection lowers a person’s barrier to change. Please refer to the worksheets that can help you with your reflection process.
Low - Like tried-and-true, traditional methods.
Moderate - You are not usually creative or curious, but they can surface.
High - Seeks new experiences and is curious to find out about the latest developments in their field of interest.
Tendency to research and find answers of the unknown. Displays inquisitiveness. This relates to the characteristic of some people to have a lifelong interest in learning, simply for the sake oflearning
2: Variety Seeking
Tendency to seek new and different experiences and eager to try new things.
Others may describe you as conservative or set in ways.
Moderate - You tend to be careful, but will consider new ways of doing something if convincing evidence is available.
You seem to be risk taking and open to applying new ideas.