It came as no surprise to me, or anyone who knows me at all well, to find “Learner” in my top five strengths when I finally got around to doing the Strengths Quest* a few years ago. I enrolled in a 200 hour yoga teacher training course, not to become a teacher though I enjoy it when I get the chance to teach a class or two. I enrolled to learn more about yoga as a system and practice. I started reading books about physics ( that’s quite different from reading actual physics books) after becoming intrigued with the ideas of quantum physics that I learned about from Margaret Wheatley’s book.* Part of the fun of teaching college classes in leadership was that to teach well, I was expected to read leadership books of all kinds.
Books continue to be my favorite way to learn. When I wanted to learn to knit, I didn’t enroll in a class. I found a beginners’ book and learned from it. I started yoga by getting a book and practiced at home first before I was brave enough to take a class. But I have also learned the value of learning by doing, by trying something new and most of all by being willing to be bad at something first.
In some ways, it’s the difference between learning physics and learning about physics. And I enjoy both – studying and investigating a topic deeply and learning something about a topic even if there isn’t time to delve into it. I never know when it might be relevant or useful or when I might come back to it again for more exploration.
You don’t have to have learner as an ‘official’ strength to enjoy learning. The reality is, if we are paying attention we are all learning all the time. Because learning is about change and growth and since change happens around us all the time, our ability to learn, grow, and change helps us stay healthy in times of chaos.
What are you learning these days? When has learning helped you manage the chaos around you? I hope you’ll share your story in the comments.
“The best thing for being sad,” replied Merlin, beginning to puff and blow, “is to learn something. That’s the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then — to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting. Learning is the only thing for you.” T. H. White, The Once and Future King *
*Sources and Citations are found on Bits and Pieces