The Why, How and Wow of Lifelong Learning

Molly Neises, Sales

“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” – Benjamin Franklin

Here at Maple Ridge Farms, we have always encouraged industry-based education opportunities for our team members.  Many hold current industry certifications and are diligently working for next levels.  Staff regularly attend educational sessions at the various trade shows and webinars, and often participate in other opportunities to learn more within the promotional products trade.

Recently we decided to really take a step forward and actively look for more general professional development opportunities that could benefit our team members.  As we’ve searched out (and taken advantage of) some interesting programs, we stumbled across some great insight on lifetime learning.  And here at the Farm, we love to share!

After extensive exploration into the topic, my brain automatically started breaking all these great knowledge bombs into three categories… Reasons Why, Methods How, and the Wow Results.  Within each of these categories, I often found myself saying, “I would have never thought of it that way,” and “That’s an easy goal to reach for!”  Continue reading below and you may be surprised at ways you are already actively attaining new knowledge without even realizing it – and some easy ways to boost your wisdom quotient!

The Why:  Though the reasons why continued education, professional development and/or lifetime learning is important may often be seen as common sense, there are often incentives that can be overlooked.  Whether the motivation is professional/employability-based or for personal growth, often the consideration could be applied to both.

Employability / Professional Reasons

  • Maintaining and improving job skills
  • Potential impact on wages, raises and promotions
  • Potential impact on both job mobility and/or retention
  • Working toward specific licensing and certifications
  • Gaining a competitive edge
  • Improving Efficiency

Personal Growth Reasons

  • Practicality – Learn something you physically need to know how to do
  • Passion and Life Satisfaction

Both!

  • Increase confidence and credibility
  • Increase social awareness
  • Improve discipline
  • Improve leadership abilities

The How: This one’s easy!  There are a ton of learning opportunities around every corner.  Some are formal, some are professional, and some are very indirect.  (Hint:  don’t overlook those informal and indirect methods – they are often the most easily accomplished.) Any way you look at it, there are ways to boost your brain power!

Formal Education:

  • Going back to a brick-and-mortar school
  • Online and Self-Directed coursework

Professional:

  • Industry Certifications
  • Seminars & Webinars
  • Lunch and Learns
  • Mentorships
  • Internships and Apprenticeships
  • Job Shadowing

Personal:

  • Community Outreach and Volunteer Programs
  • Education offered through community annex programs
  • Hobbies and Clubs

Informal / Indirect:

  • Networking
  • Peer-to-Peer
  • Travel
  • Reading
  • Brainstorming
  • Observation
  • And when all else fails… Trial and Error

The Wow: So often the results drive the action.  And sometimes we simply overlook a natural outcome and take for granted the positive impact our choices can have.  Your results can be the direct end you set out to achieve when tacking the “why” of an opportunity.  Or they can be a complete by-product of that education.  Whether pursuing formal educational opportunities, professional learning strategies, or simply taking in the knowledge around you in daily life, the aftereffects can “wow” us all!

  • Keep up with changes in the world – in technology, social issues, etc.
  • Keep up with changes in ourselves – self-awareness of evolving likes, dislikes, physical and emotional changes, etc.
  • Keeps the mind active – benefit from better memory, sharper reactions, and greater attention span
  • Helps to feed creativity – the more knowledge you have in certain areas, the more likely you are to think outside of the box for creative solutions.

So, whether it’s more professional growth like Toastmasters® (a new opportunity for me that I am both anxious and excited about), attending an educational session within your industry, or something as simple as picking up a book on topic that is new to you, there is a chance to expand your mind.  It’s up to you to take that chance and run with it!

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