Have you ever been in that ice-breaker or the first connection with a friend or colleague, and they ask, "What do you do in your free time?"
My honest answer is that I spend time studying to be a more effective teacher. That tends to turn the conversation in a weird direction, so I usually go with "I play X-Box." or some other easy conversation piece.
It sounds like I may be embarrassed that I am a lifetime learner who finds fulfillment in teaching, but I'm not.
I want to connect, so I go with something more familiar. Now I know better.
I learned something during the pandemic.
The pandemic put our communication skills to the test. Not only did we miss out on the brief, casual conversations in the hallway from when we worked together, but we also missed out on things like eye contact and body language. These critical ques help us navigate conversations effectively.
I'm unsure why, but after a few months, it seemed we all stopped trying to impress each other and got very comfortable putting our truth out there.
I learned that many other people love to learn and teach. Some envied the time I committed to my craft, some respected the discipline, and some asked questions because they aspired to be a lifelong learner. Still, others spent more time a week learning than I did and consumed new information faster and better.
I learned new ways to approach information and to teach it from people who were now on a journey with me. Before this, I felt no one would understand, so I hid that part of my world until I got to know them.
I'm not alone.
Moving away from my self-imposed constraints allows me to share openly, including writing, and learn from others in a new way.
I believe that proven leaders do two things exceedingly well: they are disciplined learners, exploring knowledge that deepens and challenges beliefs and teaching it to someone else, often at just the right time.
There is also a well-researched psychological phenomenon known as the protégé effect, were engaging in any activity that has to do with teaching, including preparing to teach, helps a person learn.
There is no reason not to get your learning on, right?
If we know we should do it and enjoy it, why don't we do it?
Exploring all of the deep reasons we procrastinate is something I will write about soon. One thing I will say here is the conflict we feel in our minds when we aren't doing what we know we should do to improve our lives (exercise, eating right, learning, being with friends and family more. The list goes on.) and chronically don't do it, the damage to ourselves is real. More to come; let's move on.
I will go with the short answer: whatever you do, you do exactly what you want.
You might say you don't want to sit at work, write reports, and have tough conversations, but you want to get paid and rationalize that the work's pain is worth the paycheck's reward.
Likewise, you have reasoned that investing time in learning is not as valuable as whatever you are doing (yes, that might mean reality tv is more fulfilling than learning something new).
That is okay! The only part that may be harmful is that you do not accept that you enjoy learning more than mowing grass, but not as much as scrolling on social media.
There is hope!
Of course, people do things they don't enjoy to get what they desire all the time, and you can too!
You can explore the lie about motivation here. I want to give you something you can work with in this article, so here we go.
- Action comes before motivation. Read a page a night. Watch a Ted Talk and teach it every week. Do something no matter how small and do it like you made a promise to yourself because you have.
- Feel that little tingle of success? That's motivation. That's being able to tell someone, "I work on my development every day, " and tell the truth. But wait - it's fading! Big Brother starts a new season soon. Keep the commitment true. Read a page, a paragraph, or listen to a podcast. Do something to keep that promise to yourself.
- Next up - momentum. The more you do something, the easier it gets. Once you've done this for a few weeks, you will find it is becoming part of your routine. The mechanics of it all is starting to move into your subconscious. You're building a habit!
- Once you have had such a strong habit that you plan around it (skip brushing your teeth? Nope.), you are now a disciplined learner.
Congratulations! Easy, right? We both know better.
I can tell you from experience that the journey is worth it.