How many of you out there would love to just go to school for the rest of your life?
I know a lot of people who would immediately raise their hands like Hermione Granger. I know a ton of people who would say absolutely not, and that is fine too.
I do not know where it came from when I was born and began to evolve my own sliver of primate consciousness, but I have loved learning for as long as I can remember. Not just hearing new information - truly learning it. Letting it seep into my muscles and marrow and the very folds of my brain.
If you read a few posts back about my one-day stand with calculus, you have an idea of my relationship to math. But even math I find fascinating - not enough to keep learning for the flipping fun of it, but for what it is, why it exists, and the way that problems are identified and solved. The logic and the systems of it.
I have come to realize that my interest in math, for example, is the same interest I have in the human mind. The logic, the systems, the way that we face changes and challenges and adapt in order to address them.
Information that we absorb we process and integrate in our minds based on our unique learning styles as well as our biases toward what we have enjoyed learning in the past. I am fascinated by math because of the way human beings invented it, now interact with it, and how math plays a role in explaining so much about the world, not by the act of solving a proof in my high school classroom. Similarly, I am fascinated by physics because of how it explains the universe and how chaotic systems have led to planets and species evolution, not by the idea of solving one of the foreign language formulas that fill up chalkboards in a lab.
I have come to peace with the fact that I may not get the chance to learn most things I would like to in this lifetime (Perhaps I will read about them during retirement in my leather easy chair and velvet robe I will own and with the sun setting perfectly outside the window), and accepting the classic constraints that time places on how much I can learn enables me to happily open myselfto learning everything I can every day.
Access to information is at an unprecedented level and even saying that is becoming redundant with the pace by which apps and websites and companies and programs are evolving while I write this post.
This is profoundly so in the world of business/narrative/branding/marketing/strategy. I just spoke with a colleague and fellow Narrativeologist who said "You are never ahead or on top of how fast the industry and media is moving."
(Sooooooo we created a monster...? Table that for now...)
The solution? "Honesty," he says.
"If you accept that you will never be able to get ahead of the world, it will be much easier to tell a client 'Hey, I have not thought of that before. Let's talk about it' when they offer a counter-perspective on your solution. Being honest about not knowing something opens the door to solving problems as a team."
Learning is collaborative. My company's tagline is Confidence through Collaboration and I mean it both ways. There is no such thing as a true expert but I know things that clients find helpful to learn either about themselves or their brands.
Simultaneously, every client knows so many things that I do not know and presents the opportunity in every conversation to teach me something new about myself, my company, and what I think about the human experience.
A lot of my clients are inundated by the billion things out there now to help them grow their businesses. It is my job to simplify things for them, but I cannot do that unless I learn from them what math problems they are facing or what chaotic systems are affecting their evolution.
The opportunity for learning is just that: an opportunity. It comes from something. Whether it is something subconscious like a personal motivation or interest that presents itself, as customary as a teacher presenting something new in class, or as tangible as the pressure to figure out what makes you stand out in your industry (Pro tip: that is why you come to me...), inspiration must be there from a separate source.
So maybe it is not about going back to school for the rest of your life. Maybe life is all the schooling you need.
What is the source of your inspiration? What are you dying to learn about?