In business, as in life, we can often disregard learning and development as an activity that we have no time for. How can we take time out to learn when we have new business to win, food to put on the table, and the work-life balancing act to play? The response is: how can you not take time to learn and develop, not just yourself but others too? Learning and development leads to a better future. Read on for how and why learning and development is worth the pain.

Learning leads to fewer mistakes
If your team takes the time to sit down, to assess what they have learnt, to figure out what went right and what went wrong, then next time will be better. Next time you can do more of the right stuff and less of the wrong stuff. You’ll make different mistakes – but at least they won’t be the same mistakes.
Learn from…everywhere
You and your team can learn from everywhere and everyone. That advert you saw that made you smile – why did it amuse you when you disregarded another one? How did it do that? Was it the images used? The words? Or where it was placed? Start to question and deconstruct what you see and hear around you. Encourage your team to do this too – you’ll be amazed where you can learn from.
Learn from yourself
Take a moment and ask yourself the tough questions: why did I respond to that? Was it because it hit a nerve? Why? What am I afraid of? How I can handle this situation better? Honest self-reflection can throw up some gems when it comes to personal growth. Make sure though that you don’t get lost in mulling over the past – the point of learning is to move on and create a better future.
Learning leads to stronger relationships
Ever worked for someone who never really listens to what other people have to say, as they know it already or their way is the best way? Ever observed what happens to them? Slowly, people start to drift away, lose interest in them, and lose respect for them.  People who are able to look another person in the eye and say, “That’s interesting. Why did you do this that way?” and be genuinely interested in the reply, then apply it to their own actions, will generate back the respect they show other people.
And if you don’t learn…
Sometimes you will meet people who steadfastly refuse to learn or develop or grow. They cling to their ways of doing things, out of ignorance, arrogance or fear. Often they regard people who ask questions as a way of learning as weak, not understanding that watching and listening is beneficial.
What happens then? My advice is: learn from it. Observe the impact they have on other people. The way their lives are. If you want a lesson in why it’s important to keep learning and developing your thoughts and skills, watch those that don’t.  Then walk away.
Be a life-long learner
My 95 year old grandmother still learns. She comes out with thoughts that reflect a younger generation and ideas and concepts that are new. Perhaps this is why at her age she is still sharp and independent? Keep observing the world around you, question it and the people in it, question yourself. Keep moving forwards. If you want to succeed in business as in life, keep learning and developing. With this attitude, you’re on your way to being a success both personally and professionally.
By Kara Stanford, MD, KMS Marketing
Kara has worked on change programmes, structuring learning and development for organisations to help their people grow and develop.

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