Our society no longer actively uses apprenticeship as the main means of learning one’s trade or skill. It is not often that we have someone come directly alongside us and commit to teaching us everything they know about a specific area of expertise. For the longest time I had a deep discouragement about this. I desperately longed for a Christian businesswoman who would spend time pouring into me from the depths of her wisdom about what it means to be a Christian woman in the business world, and the ABCs of business.
My frustration at not being able to find a woman like this began to dampen when I started to discover the power of observation. About 15 years ago I started making mental notes of what I observed as examples of good leadership and of bad leadership. Then, while working on my MBA, I started recording specific decisions and actions that I witnessed, from various leaders and managers around me, specifically those I observed from women in leadership positions. My arsenal was being constructed of good tools and ineffective tools, of positive methods and negative methods.
While reading the book of Matthew, as part of the #LentChallenge, I was reminded that Jesus used modeling and demonstration as a means of teaching the disciples. He didn’t hold their hands and “apprentice” them, but He invited them to observe His actions and choose for themselves if they wanted to follow His way of doing things. He also invited the disciples to observe and witness the examples being shown by the Pharisees, and again evaluate for themselves what the better way was.
As I read through these scriptures it reminded me of how wonderful a gift observation is to us, and how much we can learn from it. It also reminded me of the constructs of self-directed learning and autonomous learning that I studied throughout my PhD program. Essentially, both constructs indicate that we are capable of learning more when we purposefully and intentionally show desire, initiative, resourcefulness, and persistence in engaging in a learning activity.
This led me to think about other learning activities that have helped me to be a better businesswoman, a better Christian businesswoman.
For me, the main method outside of observation that I have learned from is reading. I love to read, primarily articles, books, and blogs. I’ve discovered that there is great content out there, and some not so great content, but I can learn something from both kinds. I also learn a lot from podcasts and sermons, which I often consume while on the treadmill. Social media expert, Claire Diaz Ortiz, recently posted this article on ways that she learns. I love her plan for getting the most out of a conference. A couple of years ago, author and speaker, Michael Hyatt wrote this blog about how you can go further, faster. In it he said that the secret to doing so is to “Enlist the help of the best coaches and instructors you can afford.” He gives a really helpful list of the people he’s hired over the years to help him with everything from his golf game to his business and life planning.
The point is, I’ve learned that there are so many more wonderful ways to learn than through direct instruction from someone. I no longer feel the need to have one woman teach me everything she knows because I know I can learn more through these many other sources and methods.
In what areas of your life do you want to learn and grow? What method might best help you?