The power of lifelong learning: how curiosity forges mastery

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Ryan Macgrath is the CEO and president of Asset Living, the fourth largest apartment manager in the United States.

Lifelong learning is an essential part of personal and professional development. It is an ongoing process that helps individuals stay relevant in their field, keep pace with changes in trends, and adapt to ambiguity. As Plutarch quotes, “The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be kindled.” In this article, we explore the importance of lifelong learning and how it can benefit individuals both in and out of the office.

Contents

Curiosity: the currency of progress

Curiosity is the spark that ignites the fire of learning. It is the desire to explore, question and discover new knowledge and experiences, the natural human inclination necessary for lifelong learning. Albert Einstein is often credited with saying, “I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.”

Curiosity is the fuel that propels individuals to seek new information, skills and perspectives.

Curious people listen and approach interactions in hopes of learning something valuable. When someone is genuinely interested in something, they tend to listen better – determined to find out the facts, seek answers, and gain in-depth knowledge along the way.

With more information and details at their disposal, they tend to be more motivated, more focused and ultimately more productive. Research also shows “curiosity to be associated with higher levels of positive emotions, lower levels of anxiety, [and] more satisfaction in life.” Curiosity, however, is just what drives the journey of lifelong learning.

Mastery: the pole star of lifelong learning

Mastery, as it were, keeps the fire ablaze. It is the pursuit of excellence and the constant desire to reach full potential. Mastery involves developing deep expertise, sharpening skills and integrating knowledge into a coherent and meaningful whole. But mastery is not necessarily a destination, it is a process of continuous improvement and refinement.

In the simplest terms, doing hard things helps us to improve, which ultimately allows us to become subject matter experts. Take the human body for example; our muscles grow when damaged muscle fibers need to be repaired. The process of hypertrophy is fueled by consistently pushing the limits, whether that be by running faster, jumping higher, or lifting more.

The same can be said of our brains. How do we increase our knowledge, broaden our skills and cultivate our intellect? By taking on new and unique challenges. If a decision doesn’t scare you, you’re probably not pushing the boundaries of what’s completely possible for you.

Advantages

Continuous learning creates new career opportunities and helps individuals stay ahead in today’s fast-paced world. Professionals can attend conferences, take courses or read industry publications to keep abreast of the latest trends and developments in their field.

Has lifelong learning numerous mental health benefits also. Learning new things can boost confidence and self-esteem and improve memory and cognitive function. Taking on new challenges and learning experiences can also help reduce stress and anxiety by providing a sense of accomplishment and purpose.

Learning is fundamental to the progress of human life. So let’s embrace the pursuit of lifelong learning, not only for its practical benefits, but for the enrichment and growth it brings to our lives. I started the article with a quote, so it only feels appropriate to end with it as well. The philosopher Seneca is credited with writing a line that sums it all up nicely: “As long as you live, keep learning how to live.”


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