Issues of Life Long Learning Attitude

  11 min 45 sec to read
Issues of Life Long Learning Attitude

Lifelong learning attitude is the key to the development and growth of both personal and professional lives; lack of which renders professionals and entrepreneurs irrelevant and obsolete.


Lifelong learning is the "ongoing, voluntary, and self-motivated" pursuit of knowledge for either personal or professional reasons. Lifelong education enhances not only social inclusion, and personal development, but also self-sustainability, competitiveness and employability.

For ages, we have believed that learning is a lifelong process and it not only helps us in gaining and updating knowledge but also supports in overcoming our weaknesses, failures and loopholes.  Long lasting learning applies not only to our daily lives but also to our professional lives. But, the bitter fact is that people avoid learning something new with various excuses at every stage of life. We try to hide weakness of “no- learning attitude” and keep on “learning” this hiding art in school, college and profession too. As students, we try to hide our weakness that we are not learning from lessons, hide our weakness that contents or inputs given to us are not understood.  We avoid asking questions in class, we avoid interactions, we try to pretend that we have followed everything (shaking head in consent) of input being given by the teacher and also posing as if we know more than what is being taught!

In fact, we don’t allow learning attitude to get shape in us during our school/college days. Later, as a professional when we feel lack of learning tendency, we again try to hide this weakness from the position of authority, escaping from responsibility or blaming others for lack of long-term learning perspective. But, this hiding of learning attitude has limitation in professional careers. At your job, you need to learn new things quickly and effectively to deliver services fast and perform your task effectively. There is no place for any excuse.

Firstly, you can’t attain remarkable success with weak learner attitude. Next, you cannot achieve sustainable success, and gain respect and recognition in your profession with no-learning tendency. Learning attitude makes a whole lot of difference in professional life. Great learner’s attitude and behavior start to develop during “student life” in schools and colleges. The way we are groomed, environment we grow up in and knowledge and information we receive in formative years shape our personality.

Four factors are responsible for cultivating a learning mindset in people.
1.    Beliefs of an individual
2.    Attitude formed during upbringing
3.    Preference people develop
4.    Perception to view the world
Out of these four factors, beliefs are hard to change as they exist to protect self-image of the individuals. And people do everything possible to defend their behavior with their beliefs.  Preferences are difficult to change because people develop preferences from parental and cultural upbringing. Since preferences are formed through years of particular action or reaction related to one’s behavior, they become difficult again to change. Perception is the outcome of our experience, observation, reference to particular situation, events and matters. Perception differs from person to person.

Though the mindset for lifelong education is formed in early years, attitude can be modified to cultivate long term learning attitude.

Attitude is responsible for effective learning and permanent change in our behavior. Attitude can be changed through a well-defined pedagogy to impart learning attitude effectively to bring a change in mindset.  Professional education institutions contribute largely to change mindset in budding professionals. Good institutions believe in this and feel responsible to bring this attitude change in budding professionals through the quality inputs. Professionals coming out of such institutions with learner mindset prove to be very effective pillars of respective industries in the long run.

Change of attitude for a lifelong learning process and a receptive mindset are need of hour for effective and efficient performances, and sustainable success. They empower professionals with skills to handle changes and challenges they encounter in real world of work. Theoretically attitudes are learned predispositions which can be vaguely termed as how an individual responds to a particular situation. People vary in their behaviors and react differently in different situations. This is an art to learn the art of learning.

If you develop the attitude of learning, knowledge will come to you and your personality will develop to deliver results and in turn, your behavior will get refined to establish you as “good, knowledgeable professional”. Sense of responsibility and taking accountability comes with this attitude change for lifelong learning. As human beings, our personalities are shaped since childhood (Freud’s theory) in different stages of life through learning. Learning process makes you open-minded to accept change, leading to long-term changes in behavior in almost all respects. The mind of a continuous learner is open to new things to learn, generate new ideas, accept fresh concepts, and listen to critics. Lifelong learners are open to suggestions, and are ready to improve at every step of their personal and professional lives.

On the contrary, when one stops educating himself/herself, he/she confines himself/herself to his/her own paradise (rather fool’s paradise). Non-learners consider themselves “successful” for whatever they have achieved and however they have achieved. They don’t realize the real extent of success they could have accomplished with a learning attitude.  People without learning mindset compare themselves with others less successful than they are in business and profession and are complacent. Consequently, such people develop “hatred” towards people more successful than they are and try to find out faults with more successful and high achievers.

“I already know enough” type people develop an attitude of being “perfect” who do  not need to improve in any area of life.  They avoid listening to the critics. They do not like criticism. Nor do they wish to see critical comments on their performances. They hate people who question them and judge their knowledge and intellectual capability. People having no learning mindset like to hear good about them, like people who praise them, their behavior, knowledge and performances. Such people wish to create and feel a “successful” world around.

To sum up, people minus learning mindset refrain from learning process. They try to learn neither through new stimuli nor from feedback. This is a common symptom prevalent among majority of so-called successful people who believe succeeding at any cost.  This bitter truth is widespread among people especially those in powerful positions in organizations and those running their businesses.

In technical terminology, staying away from learning is state of unique perceptual selection where people screen out communication /stimuli /learning to suit their beliefs, ideology or status not to allow stimuli to reach their mindset that can trigger a perceptual change process.  In fact, these kinds of people block their minds to learning something new. Professionals and entrepreneurs with “learning blockage” symptom try to prove themselves better than others at every possible platform with their “limited knowledge”.

People with closed mind to learning try to prove other wrongs than working to prove what they are doing is good and right. Such professionals and businessmen wish to be surrounded by the “admirers” not by critics. They spend their valuable time criticizing others rather than self-introspecting. Their admirers try to take an advantage of their closed mindset by encouraging them to take inappropriate decision by blocking their learning process.

In the absence of critical analysis and lack of educational mindset, professionals and entrepreneurs make wrong decisions, harming their own careers and businesses. This affects future growth prospect as well. Failure to update the latest trends and happenings leads the business to the downfall.  World has plenty of examples where “lack of learning” has caused disasters in organizational functioning, decision making, and failing to compete with rivals. In addition to individual case of Vijay Malya   in India , there are other  examples such as  Nokia and  Blackberry. Nokia was the unrivaled mobile brand before the arrival of Samsung and other brands.  

Unfortunately, the once-number one mobile manufacturer could not see the changing customer demand and need.

Despite securing top market position, best professionals and consumer trust, Nokia  not only lost its market share but also went out of business. It was actually the failure of Nokia executives who did not learn and understand technological and market changes occurring rapidly. As a result, they failed to respond to the customers’ choices and need. Why did Nokia and Blackberry lose their market when they were number choices among the customers? Their failures can be attributed to the blockage of learning process. This is very common in today’s professional world as well. Most successful and high achievers fall from their power and status when they erase learning from their dictionary and become complacent with their “limited knowledge”.

Professionals and businessmen have to catch up with changing economical, technological, environmental or socio-cultural elements affecting their profession and business.  With stagnant mind, people cannot make headway in their profession and business and they will become irrelevant shortly. To thrive in the world of work and business, people have to adopt never ending learning attitude. In short, learning helps in gaining knowledge and knowledge in turn leads to overall change in mindset, personality, attitude and behaviors in individuals. Change for the professionals matters a lot. As professionals, people need to update knowledge continuously, collect latest information, analyze unfolding scenario through latest models and strategies. For all this to happen, people require learning mindset and attitude. Without learning mindset and attitude, people fail to grow and thrive as professionals and entrepreneurs. So, there is no choice but to develop continuous learning habit. During school days, people have to work to cultivate right learning attitude and mindset.

The learning mindset has to continue in the professional life as well. The best way to do this is to improve ourselves continually. Instead of hiding weaknesses, we need to work to eradicate them. You should make a critical analysis of your own acts, responsibilities, behaviors, knowledge intakes, attitude and personality related traits continuously. You have to give a space to you for self-analysis, give at least few minutes every day to introspect yourself for improvement. Take positives from all and learn from everything, everybody and every situation you come across. Do not shy away from interactions and participation. Do not be afraid of failures, take them as lessons, learn, try new things, new roles, and take new responsibilities. Take the lead, respect and recognize others. Create value for you as professional and earn due credibility and trust among your peers and colleagues.  Transformation process is not easy as some would argue. One has to undergo a difficult “change” process where one needs to work on his/her self by cultivating lifelong learning attitude.

People have to develop the learning habit and skill to understand life and world better. Never-ending learning mindset will keep you updated and relevant in your job. Lacking mindset for learning will render you irrelevant and outdated and you will lose the job or cannot compete to climb the corporate ladder.

Challenges are bound to come and we have to respond them effectively with our updated skills and knowledge. Learning is an individualized process and must be done by the individuals themselves; nobody not even the instructor can do this for you. Research shows that that no two people respond to same event in the similar way. People learn different things depending on how they perceive situation with their set attitude and mindset towards it. The learner's goal is significant in the act of learning. If you have vision to become a good professional, you will formulate the mission accordingly and develop a learning attitude. With this attitude, you can develop competency, personality, competitiveness, and behaviours to support your mindset.

Learning comes from ‘Attitude to Learn’ and this attitude is not inherent in most of the individuals.  But, we don’t realize this vital aspect of life till we face the reality and feel its role in life and career. The right time to acquire and develop this attitude is school and college life. Unfortunately, very few of us understand this.  By the time we realize the importance of learning attitude, it is too late and it is very difficult to condition mind to become lifelong learners. Therefore, you have to work on attitude development and cultivate the learning habit during school and college days.  From student life, people have to start changing mindset, gain knowledge, become open-minded and adapt to the change happening.  Educational institutes have a vital role in shaping the future professionals and entrepreneurs. Teaching and learning pedagogy plays an important role in imparting skills and knowledge to the future professionals.  A lifelong learning attitude is the only way to acquire and develop requirements for high professionalism.  In such a context, people have no choice but to develop such requirements in the rapidly changing professional world where outdated employees are laid off and those with open mind to learning keep thriving.  

(Dr. Vibhuti Jha is Professor of Marketing & Director at School of Commerce and Management at Assam Don Bosco University, Guwahati –India)

No comments yet. Be the first one to comment.