In no way do I believe reading is the best way to learn. But I love the process of discovery, especially when it happens unexpectedly, whether it’s in a book or elsewhere.
I consume a lot of short training courses throughout the year. Tableau is one of my favorite software tools, so I easily go through roughly 25 hours of video instruction annually. Notice I used the term that I used—instruction, not discovery.
Those 25 hours do not include the hours where I go back and press replay in certain video snippets. Nor does it include my practice time to put a new idea into practice. This latter process is my discovery process where those aha’s surface. That’s discovery.
I believe any type of instruction can lead to learning and growth. Discovery might take longer compared to active reading in a topic you especially like.
Does that mean you should minimize education activities other than reading actively? Not at all. Instead, I suggest working on or implementing practices that will lead to discovery after learning pursuits of any kind. Ideas include:
- Revisiting your notes 1 day later, a week later, even a month later to augment retention
- Similar to the above, file your materials in Evernote, your Moleskin, or wherever you like to keep notes for future reference
- My favorite idea is to teach another person what you have just learned. The spoken word is powerful. Sometimes you’ll pick up on something as you convey your new-learned ideas with others. That’s discovery doing it’s magic somewhere in the deepest crevices of your mind.
Regarding the last point above, I’m a big fan of the person who attends a training event to spend 20-30 minutes going over key takeaways with fellow staff members. Obviously, take more time as needed.
When attending training on or on-site instruction as a group, those lunches with peers, fellow staff members, and even the instructor if possible are fantastic to reaching those all-important discovery moments.
Some of this is starting to sound like common sense. However, I’m just trying to delineate between instruction and discovery. Both are important, but one leads to progress more so than the other. Or put another way, one is a prerequisite to the other.
Question to Ponder
Think back to the last time you had that aha moment after intense reading or studying a topic that you found difficult at first. How did that moment of discovery feel? Can you describe it?
Now think back to the actions preceding that moment of discovery. What were those actions? Write them down. Team them to others of you are in a leadership position. Use your list for future active reading and times of structured instruction.