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How we learn

Learning is a core value of our Collective Results team. At Collective Results we question, listen, evaluate, reflect, and search for evidence with open minds to better our relationships and our results.

In this blog post, each member of the Collective Results team shares some thoughts about what learning means to them and how they approach it.

Michi: As I identified in my introductory blog, “Love of Learning” is one of my character strengths and I have developed a few strategies over my life to build on it.

First, follow your interests. Think about those topics or things that you are drawn to. When you consume the news or read a magazine, which articles do you skip to? Which area of the bookstore or library do you gravitate towards? Which activities or tasks do you feel excited about doing? Following your interests will make learning seem much easier – maybe even fun. Second, use a variety of mediums. These days there are so many different methods you can use to learn – books, podcasts (there is a podcast for anything), webinars, in-person or virtual classes, online courses (check out – some courses can be audited for free), etc. Variety is the “spice of life”, and you can figure out how you learn best. Finally, don’t be afraid to experiment. If you enjoy music – try learning to play an instrument. If you like physical activities – try a new sport. If you love food – try a new cooking technique. The benefits can go beyond simply learning new information or a new skill to building connections (neural, social, cognitive) and inspiring creativity in other areas of our lives

Liz: In my experience, ongoing and continuous learning leads to better results. When we approach problems with a learning mindset, we are more open to possible solutions and a willingness to test them - or as Adam Grant describes this, we need to think more like Scientists. Our world is constantly changing and lately it feels as though it is rapidly changing. To keep up in this changing world we need to be open to new ideas and have a willingness to change our mind. To help me learn, I ask a LOT of questions and LISTEN to what people say. I love to reach out to people to gather different perspectives to inform my thinking. This strategy works so well when applied to different projects such as strategic planning where you need to gather, synthesize, organize and make sense of information gathered from different sources.

Jennifer: As with many people, I learn best by doing. That's true for my work life (learning to use a new software program, developing work plans, facilitating sessions) and for my personal life (being a mom, playing guitar, bonding with my cat). Learning by doing is called experiential learning. Some believe that people learn effectively through experiential learning because they are absorbed in the task. In writing about his research on Learning by Doing, John Dewey stated, “We do not learn from experience. We learn from reflecting on experience.” I believe that is true, and it’s a good reminder to me to build in time to reflect as I engage in new endeavours.

Amy: As I was running with a friend this week, I mentioned how surprised I was at the learning and growth I had accomplished this year, despite not pursuing any formal professional development. I have done a lot of formal learning over the course of my career, and I love formal learning. I’ve been fortunate to complete certificates in leadership, knowledge mobilization, change leadership, and lean healthcare, among other amazing learning opportunities. However, through my conversation with my running buddy, who is also an accomplished educator, I realized that the past year has been a successful year of experiential learning for me. Experiential learning acknowledges that the best learning can come from making sense of your experiences. Experiential learning involves concrete experiences, reflection, conceptualization, and experimentation to learn, test, and solidify new concepts. This process has been absolutely essential to me over the last year while figuring out how to run a new and growing business. As Jennifer discussed above, reflection is an important part of experiential learning, and this is something that I have incorporate into my life in different ways. I try to reflect at the end of each work day on what I have learned. I ask myself two simple questions: 1) what is something that went well today? 2) what is something you would have done differently today? And we always reserve time to collectively discuss our learnings at our weekly Collective Results team meetings. At the end of the day, I think our approach to learning stems from a growth mindset - the belief that through learning, experiences, hard work, and strategy we can grow our knowledge and talents. A growth mindset pushes us to pursue new opportunities, ask questions, listen deeply, support each other, and learn from the bumps along the road.

Lindsay: I am a visual learner. When learning new information, I find using graphs, tables, and diagrams to be extremely beneficial to help organize the new content into themes or find patterns. Creating tangible examples or an analogy to sharpen the visual in my mind works well too. To learn a new skill, I prefer to see someone else do it first and shadow their actions. Whether it was basketball practice or watching a cooking TV show, if I see someone else demonstrate what to do, I can learn that new skill much better than reading instructions. When it comes to learning about new surroundings, whether it’s moving to a new city or while travelling, a map is my best friend. Orienting myself with the map to get my bearings is the optimal way for me to learn and feel more comfortable somewhere new. Never be afraid to go into the map if necessary…

Ishan: I have tended to be visual and experiential in my learning since I was younger. Unfortunately, these ways of learning have been challenging for me over the past 2 years. With fewer opportunities to learn skills in person as most workshops had been cancelled or switched to virtual, those experiential opportunities were tougher to find. Also, with much of my work and the interactions I have with colleagues and clients being virtual at the moment, I have found that more screen time or traditional visual learning was not something I was interested in at all. It was really the desire to decrease my screen time that first led me to further explore an alternative medium for learning. What about auditory learning? I have been a fan of sports and true crime based podcasts for years, and I would listen to those when commuting or in the background to distract me from chores. Last year I stumbled on a few interesting podcasts that were thoughtful and growth-oriented and I was hooked. This approach has definitely cut down on my screen time, has allowed me to be reflective, and has required me to be more mindful and work on an approach to consuming information that was not previously my ‘go-to’. I simply put on my headphones, and take it in. Another benefit is that there are thousands of great podcasts available and the topics are endless. Two podcasts that I just finished listening to and really found thought provoking are:

1) Nice White Parents’: this one focuses on the public school system in a Brooklyn neighbourhood and its evolution over the past 60 years as a result of the political and systemic racial tensions taking place in the community and the country

2)For the Love of Work (please look past the corporate sponsorship): this one focuses on the modern workplace and what it is that employees want/expect from their place of work. The episodes on diversity and inclusion and making mistakes are especially interesting!

What are your favourites? I'd love some recommendations.

What role does learning play in your work and personal life? How do you like to learn?

If you are not sure what your learning style is, try out this free quiz to find out!

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