Holiday Reading: Learning – an access to having it all?

The day I stop learning I’m dead. And even when that day comes I will not know everything there is to know.

The day I stop learning I’m dead.

Nobody does, even Einstein said he is not an expert on anything, merely curious. Did you for instance know that sweating leaves produce electricity? Neither did I until I came across that revelation.

Learning is fascinating. Some days what we learn have a fundamental impact on our lives, some days it’s just minor things and sometimes we are forced to learn lessons we really could do without. But regardless, the important thing is that we learn and develop. If not, how can improvement take place? How boring life would be without constant learning and development. Imagine how inflexible people would be..

Ever met a person who has never had a problem?

Everybody has problems, the richest man in the world as well as the poorest. It’s just a question of what problems. The important thing though is what we learn from them. The easiest is to blame everybody else but that approach will just assure that the same problem happens over and over again. The smart, and interesting, way is to take responsibility for what happened, learn and move on.

Almost every day something new happens

In Saudi Arabia you learn a lot. KSA is, in my opinion, the most interesting country in the world because almost every day something happens that you have never experienced before. Life in the kingdom hence enriches you enormously, provided of course, that you are not stuck in your ways or intolerant. We are all different, and that’s what makes life beautiful. How boring it would be if we were all alike.

If you have a curious mind and constantly learn you can succeed with anything. Don’t know how many times I have been asked to do something I have never done before in different parts of the world. So I just found out, learnt and did it.

Life has no guarantees

Sometimes I think people are afraid of learning and developing. It’s not only laziness but also easier to take the option of doing nothing since, they could, after all, fail. And society sometimes reward people for towing the line as opposed to learning and developing. It’s not unusual that even top positions are filled with executives who will just preserve the status quo. That’s all very well, but how will companies develop with that kind of mind-set? Sure control is important but surely not at the expense of the company learning, developing and improving results? And how can they do that unless they start looking at new and different options? Besides I don’t understand the contradiction since I have always followed company policy and at the same time learnt, developed and improved results.

For me acquiring new knowledge, behaviors, skills, values, preferences and understanding is vital. To be broad-minded and curious is probably one of the key, if not the key, aspect of life. And how would that be possible without constantly learning? I know more today than I did yesterday and will continue to do so for the rest of my life. I really enjoy living and am not afraid of dying but anything in between I’m simply not interested in. And isn’t that how we end up leading our lives if we stop learning with all that entails? Or maybe Oscar Wilde had a point when he said: “Everybody who is incapable of learning has taken to teaching”? Joke aside, at least that’s how we sometimes felt when we were at school.

(Photo: PhotoXpress giuseppe porzani)

88 comments to Holiday Reading: Learning – an access to having it all?

  • Katbourgeois  says:

    Most people consider me a very creative thinker. But I wonder if I have the courage to risk enough to fail miserably?

    Kat

    • catarinaalexon  says:

      It's easier said than done isn't it Kat? But instant gratification may be a thing of the past? If so, it's time to have the courage to risk everything again, like they did in the old days.

  • catarinaalexon  says:

    Thanks Hopewell – am delighted that I'm inspiring you!

  • Aya R. ElGebeely  says:

    Thanks Catarina … sometimes through my daily life activities, when one gets stuck in the horrible cycle , & when I forget to evaluate what I’ve learned everyday in my life.. and may be sometimes the day pass without learning anything and at these very moments, really life start to be extremely boring ..

    So how you keep working, developing yourself, and learning new things everyday?

    I know the answer for this, as I always advise my friends with, but currently I need someone to lead me through :)

    Thanks again

    • catarinaalexon  says:

      Aya, I'm sure you learn things every day. It's not only learning major lessons that counts. Sometimes I even learn things from people I would never have thought I had anything to learn from. Every evening I think through what I have learnt that was significant one way or another. And seriously sometimes small silly things make a huge difference. Or some rude person making a remark on an airport and it makes you think and come up with new ideas or whatever.
      Aya be generous with what you consider learning something new. It's a broad field.

  • Brian Meeks  says:

    I agree with every point you made. It is the learning of life that makes the journey rich. I have been exploring woodworking and it has filled my learning quota nicely. Nice blog piece. Well done.

    • catarinaalexon  says:

      Thank you Brian. Glad you thrive on learning as well. It's beautiful isn't it.

  • Karim  says:

    You're spot on!

    Life long learning is the key to life. The domain of human knowledge is ever expanding so let us explore it to the fullest extent possible.

    • catarinaalexon  says:

      Couldn't have said it better myself Karim!

  • Julia M Lindsey  says:

    There are so many things to learn you have to decide what is important to you. I find that particularly important in business. You can learn about many things but you need experts on your team if you want things done in a timely manner. I love researching information and finding new ways to do things but I often turn to the expert to implement the change or idea.

    I am amazed the number of people that actually think they are to old to learn an new skill.

    • catarinaalexon  says:

      Yes, it's amazing that some people think they are too old to or feel they don't need to learn more isn't it?

  • Patricia Weber  says:

    Catarina this reminds me of the business expression, When you stop getting better you stop being good. But lets not use the continual learning and improving to keep us stuck. Some have the challenge of balancing knowing enough to take action.

    Yes; we can all learn new things! Even my 12 year old dog does!

  • Rob Berman  says:

    I learned a different variation on your joke. Those who can do, those who can't teach, those who can't teach teach tym (physical education).

    We all keep learning. The TV show in the US called are you smarter than a fifth grader created a bit of a sensation when it debuted. My son just finished fifth grade. Some days he is smarter. I learned numerous things from him this year.

    Rob

  • Roberta  says:

    Love the post – Interestingly enough in my 20 years of training others, there was never a session that I did not walk away with an ah ha moment. Sometimes, learning is finally understanding a morsel of what we know. And I think that the need to keep growing and learning has been commented on in medicine several times as the way to stave off dementia and alzheimer's. Go Catarina and may you always find the beauty and stimulation that comes from learning. Keep love of learning and life always alive in your heart and mind. Thank you for the post

  • Susan Oakes  says:

    Catarina,

    I love learning and being curious. Although I have been in marketing a long time I remain curious and learn from others and what they say can spark ideas or insights that I would never have thought of.

    • catarinaalexon  says:

      Yes Susan, we have to be open to learning, even about things we are not really interested in. If not, we will become like the marketing people who say about social media "we don't use that here"….

  • Mercy  says:

    I love learning Catarina. There is no end learning.Very inspiring as usual.

  • catarinaalexon  says:

    Good points Lincoln.

  • Julie Weishaar  says:

    Catarina, can you speak with my children? They don't listen to me :). Your outlook on life, learning and most importantly, accepting responsibility for your own actions speaks volumes about your wisdom.

    I must admit that I think I could have made it through my life without the knowledge about sweating and wouldn't have missed out on much LOL. Cute example!

    I am with you about learning. Unfortunately, many are not. They think they know all they need to know and because of their attitude, will never develop and/or improve their character. There is nothing more refreshing than to see a truly exceptionally-intelligent person being humble and admitting that even they still have plenty to learn.

    From a relationship perspective, your concept lends itself to what I have always tried to instill in my now adult daughter. It is true that you can't and shouldn't even try to "change" a person you are involved with. However, if we are living our lives the "right" way, we will continue to grow – as you clearly state in your post. A great relationship is based on one where the parties involved grow together rather than growing apart or worse yet, not growing at all.

    Thanks for sharing your insights!
    Julie

  • Paul Novak  says:

    Can't tell you how many times people have asked me do their website building (free of course), fix HTML, tell them how to customize blogs etc, and when I tell them they cand do it if they try, (I just sat down and started learning how to do it and did it), they respond with excuses as to why they CAN'T do it.

    We can all learn. It's largely about whether or not you are willing to. Folks forget that they didn't always know how to build a house, how to do payroll taxes, how to manage real estate listings. They learned how. I love pointing this out when people say to me, "Oh I couldn't even begin to do THAT, it's just too hard".

    No. it isn't. You just haven't learned how to yet.

    The opportunities are limitless for those wise enough to know that they don't know. THEY are the ones who learn and move ahead.

  • Sherryl Perry  says:

    I think sometimes when people fight change it’s because they don’t want to learn something new. I find change exciting and learning new things is exciting too. One good thing about working in the technology field is that as soon as you’ve learned something, it’s changed or there’s something better. I’m counting on this to keep me young! :)

  • on the ball parent coach  says:

    Catarina,
    I'm not in the corporate world but am self employed after a 12 year hiatus. Learning hit me in new, fast and furious ways. Like you said, sometimes it is enjoyable and other times, downright frustrating. At the end of the day, I find that if I simply embrace learning withmy faith, I'm simply happier. I sleep well knowing how much richer my life has become.
    Thank you for your beautifully written post.

    • catarinaalexon  says:

      Glad you are into learning and like my article.

  • Jerry  says:

    Learning is a form of renewal. With increased knowledge, you can see more opportunity, which is the path to change and growth. Human nature seems to tend towards staying in one's own "comfort zone", regardless of how uncomfortable it may be to stay there. For many, it is easier to endure a bad lot in life than to learn how to be happier. I was given this passage by a wise teacher who believed that learning was one of the great satisfactions in life:

    "The best thing for being sad," replied Merlyn, beginning to puff and blow, "is to learn something. That is the only thing that never fails. You may grow old in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then — to learn."

    — Merlyn, advising the young Arthur, from The Once and Future King (T.H. White)

    • catarinaalexon  says:

      Good points Jerry. Pity so many people love their comfort zones since they really don't lead life to the full.

  • James Langley  says:

    Embrace your mistakes in life it is the best source of learning.I agree that knowledge is essential to be able to face all the troubles in life, think twice before moving and making decisions.

    • catarinaalexon  says:

      Yes, James, the day I stop learing I'm dead.

  • Geek Girl  says:

    This is a great post! I have never understood those who do not want to keep learning. It does not have to be difficult. Explore new hobbies. Travel and see a new city and its sites. You can always learn something new. It also seems to me that if you are learning you are less likely to develop brain problems like Alzheimers. That may or may not be true, but I will keep learning and using my brain just in case it is. I also find that I enjoy learning new things. It makes me a more interesting person I think. There just doesn't seem to me to be a down side to learning. OK Some have mentioned failure. There is nothing you can do that you do not risk failure. Why concentrate on it? There you go… my two cents. :)
    My recent post Snapguide for iPhone & iPad

    • catarinaalexon  says:

      Thank you Cheryl! Seems we have the same outlook on life.

  • Jon Jefferson  says:

    I am a huge fan of continued learning. You miss out on so much when you are afraid to try something new.
    My recent post Moving Forward

    • catarinaalexon  says:

      Jon, what in particular do you thrive on learning?

  • Kurt  says:

    Sometimes it is hard, but you have to continue to blow through and push on. If you truly believe in something and love learning that thing your efforts should pay off in the end.

    • catarinaalexon  says:

      Kurt, don't you think all human beings need to learn on a continous basis, even if about things they don't truly believe in? If not we stagnate enormously.

  • Stephen Coates  says:

    When in my mid 30s, I shared a house with a woman who was in her early 40s. I read many books from her library, but after glancing at mine, declared that that time in her life for learning was over. I couldn't understand it then and I don't now. The day I stop learning is the day they put me in a box.

    • catarinaalexon  says:

      Glad you agree with me Stephen. The woman is a good example of people who stagnate.

  • Leora  says:

    "Everybody who is incapable of learning has taken to teaching" – oh, dear, I'm afraid I sometimes relay this to my children, especially when they have a rigid teacher who sets silly rules. But I find if I express dismay with some rule in just the right way, sometimes even the rigid teacher learns to laugh and gives up the rule …
    My recent post Favorite Blog Posts 2012

  • Susan Cooper  says:

    Life without learning and growing is indeed a very dull life. I opt to grow and learn. At times it's uncomfortable and scary where other times it's fun and exciting.

    I would take exception with Wilde quote. Our greatest teachers has been in the forefront of growth and knowledge of which Einstein was one. Have an amazing New Year with all the rewards that can go with it.
    My recent post A Year Long Past: Story/Song

    • catarinaalexon  says:

      Glad we agree Susan. Just quoted Wilde as a joke:-) Happy New Year Susan!!

  • Jeannette Paladino  says:

    Catarina — I love learning new things. What did I know about social media five years ago? Not much. Yet today, social media is what I do for a living. It's been an exhilarating challenge.
    My recent post Are You Guilty of Using LinkedIn’s Top 10 Overused BuzzWords?

    • catarinaalexon  says:

      Glad you agree with me Jeannette. Imagine if we had, like some people do, stopped learning when we turned 40:-)

  • @patweber  says:

    For me learning is a lifelong fun activity. I love reading your posts because they often give me a very different perspective.

    I don't recall where I heard this expression but it seems to fit: When you stop getting better you stop being good. I find today with me and various online projects, I get stuck in learning. So maybe what has to come along with lifelong learning is to take the knowledge and apply it!

    Happy New Year Catarina!
    My recent post 2013 Social Media Marketing Tips for the Introvert

    • catarinaalexon  says:

      Thank you Pat. Glad we agree on the need for learning on a continous basis. Happpy New Year!

  • JeriWB  says:

    I've become more complacent than I used to be regarding learning new things, but I do make an effort to pick new activities to try. I tend to experience extreme discomfort in new situations since I'm such a perfectionist who always worries about not being able to do something correctly the first try. Which is precisely whey I know it's so important to try new things and grow from the experience. Hopefully, 2013 will be the year of fly fishing!
    My recent post JeriWB Writes: Blog Resolutions

  • Becc  says:

    One of the things I love about your blog is that I learn something completely new that I had either not known about or you provide a different aspect that I hadn't thought of. You help me to learn and I appreciate that!
    My recent post Resolution Inspiration – I hope!

    • catarinaalexon  says:

      Very happy I make you learn Becc. Thank you.

  • catarinaalexon  says:

    Glad you agree with me Dan.

  • Christian  says:

    Everyone is learning new stuff along the way, it depends how much stuff on how interested the person in question is about the world around him.
    I'm always reading and learning new stuff, everything science and history related is fascinating for me. For some, this may be boring, but as we all know, it depends from person to person.
    I'm also a big fan of improving my skills, especially the ones related to my job.

    • catarinaalexon  says:

      Good for you Christian. Glad you agree with me.

  • jacquiegum  says:

    I'm with you Catarina! The day I stop wanting to learn is the day they put me in the ground:) Even the things I wish I had never learned, have an impact on me! LOL I've often dubbed myself a learn-a-holic and curiosity is my fuel. Again, another post that hits the mark. Happy New Year my friend. May this year bring you lots of new knowledge…and happiness too:)

    • catarinaalexon  says:

      Not surprised you are of the same opinion, Jacqueline. Happy New Year! May all you wish come true!:-)

  • andleebakhlaqkhan  says:

    Nice post Catarina

    I believe from a long time,” The day on which I have learnt nothing is not the part of my Life. This is what my religion also teach us to be curious and learn. I believe that knowing some skills to do wonders or be successful in career is not all about learning, how to deal with emotions, how to help others in our current situation, how to bring a smile on someone’s face; is also learning. I think that most amazing thing in our life is learning and it is continuous process that goes along the way. Knowing or unknowing it , everyone is learning something but some are more curious and try to look for things that can not be seen by many.

    Btw, you are a brave woman who is not afraid of dying, I am very afraid of dying, believe me and after I read, I got goose bumps. I think what I will tell to my Creator after my death, what I have done to comfort His creations, this makes me afraid.

    I do not know that sweating leaves produce electricity, I will look into this.

    Thanks for a great and thought provoking share. Thumbs Up !

    • catarinaalexon  says:

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Andleeb.

  • Donna Janke  says:

    I agree – life is about learning. There is so much to learn and be curious about. I have a friend who says that a day isn't wasted if you've learned at least one new thing. When I look at things that way, it's hard to find any day I've wasted.
    My recent post 2014 Year In Review

  • boomeresq  says:

    <<<>>>> I totally agree with your statement, but it’s ironic that you make it about life in Saudi Arabia. From what I’ve read, Saudi Arabia is one of the least tolerant countries in the world in terms of demanding orthodoxy. This is not to say that a visitor should not do their best to try to learn about and understand the culture and religion of that society. Lifelong learning is certainly a laudable goal.

    • catarinaalexon  says:

      Suzanne, the words interesting and tolerant have completely different meanings. We don't learn much when we are in countries where everything works like back home. Despite that the majority of people in this world lead their lives the way they do back home and don't intergrate in new and different cultures. They hence don't learn:-)

  • bethnieb  says:

    What fun would life be if we stopped learning? Curiosity and the paths that it leads us to are the spice of life. I plan to end my life having learned something new – probably that the thing that led to my passing was a mistake. Good article!

    • catarinaalexon  says:

      When we pass away we will find out if something happens or if it's just black, Beth. Interesting isn't it:-)

      • bethnieb  says:

        Fascinating. I'm content to wait to see but have always wondered ever since I was a little girl.
        My recent post How to Be Successful

        • catarinaalexon  says:

          Have met someone who was dead for a short time. He said it was a wonderful experience and that he could see around him. We will find out.

  • lenie5860  says:

    Happy New Year Catarina – I really like your approach to learning. I love research, finding out new things or discovering new ways for doing old things – and this I will continue to do until the day I die. Continuing to learn will keep mental boredom away and like you, I can’t think of anything worse than just existing..

    • catarinaalexon  says:

      Yes, let's hope we stay healthy and keep on learning until we pass away, Lenie.

  • Cheryl  says:

    I still keep learning. Like you if I am not learning then I am stagnating. Part of being ‘Geek Grandma’ is that I keep trying new things. I love tech! The tech industry is growing at an exponential rate so there is always something to learn. Happy New Year!

    • catarinaalexon  says:

      Glad, but not surprised, you agree with me, Cheryl. Happy New Year!

  • Alice  says:

    We must keep learning new things to keep the little grey cells working properly.

    • catarinaalexon  says:

      Yep. Alice but much more than that. If you don't keep on learning you will stagnate. Your little grey cells can work properly even if you don't learn:-)

  • patweber  says:

    This is interesting Catarina. I don't think I would be dead although for sure, I'd get stuck. I've been just thinking about my 2015 intentions so this, gives food for thought as I complete this process. Happy New Year!

    • catarinaalexon  says:

      Pat if you stop learning you will become bored and, frankly, ruin your life. Happy New Year!

  • Tim  says:

    Hard to disagree with the value of continued learning so I, like the others, agree.

    • catarinaalexon  says:

      Tim, a lot of people don't care about learning but they would still agree with me in order not to look dim.:-)

  • yearwoodcom  says:

    How boring life would be if we didn’t pose questions and then go in search of the answers. I think giving a cheer to life long learning on the cusp of a new year is awesome idea. Great post. Wishing you all the best in 2015.

    • catarinaalexon  says:

      Glad, but not surprised, we agree, Debra. Wish you a Fantastic New Year!!

  • Susan P Cooper  says:

    I enjoy growing and learning even thoug it can be scary at times. What a boring life it would be without the fun and excitement of learning new things.

    I do take exception with Wilde quote. Our best teachers have been in the forefront of growth and knowledge of which Einstein was one.

    I hope you have a great New Years!

    • catarinaalexon  says:

      Agree with you completely, Susan. But there are actually a lot of people who stop learning because they feel they know enough. Can't help wondering if anyone would admit here that they don't feel they need to learn more:-)

  • Ken Dowell  says:

    It’s hard to imagine not learning. It should be something that would happen just by being alive. To not learn would take some effort and an unusually closed mind. Some people learn in spite of themselves. Others learn because they embrace it. The latter learn a lot more.

    • catarinaalexon  says:

      Ken, there is a huge difference between wanting to learn and learning because it's necessary. A huge number of people are not really interested in learning but would never admit it.

  • Along Comes Mary  says:

    What a great article, Catarina. I also admire you for not fearing death. It scares the hell out of me. Thank you for getting me thinking!

    • catarinaalexon  says:

      My pleasure, Mary. Death is one of the 3 most natural things in life. We are born, we live and we die.

  • William Rusho  says:

    Continuing to try to learn something has been lost by many of us.
    I know it is a wasteful day when I do not try to learn something new. Also, I think the topic is important too. We have a tendency to gravitate to those topics we like. We need to expand our knowledge to other areas. I know I watch knowledge based shows, sometimes deliberately watching a show based on something I never knew before.

    • catarinaalexon  says:

      Glad someone finally admits that he's no longer learning that much.

  • Ajay  says:

    Life without learning is so monotonous. Doesn’t matters if it is a natural phenomenon or an individual you are learning something from, all you need to do is just push yourself towards that learner attitude.

    • catarinaalexon  says:

      Glad you agree with me, Ajay. But the most important thing is if a person wants to learn or not. A lot of people don't:-)

  • catarinaalexon  says:

    Couldn't have said it better Guy!

  • catarinaalexon  says:

    Glad you liked it.

  • catarinaalexon  says:

    Glad, but not surprised, you agree with me, Donna. Agree with your friend.

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