Change is a difficult thing.  It is certainly one of those things that falls under the “easier said than done” category.  We talk about how we will exercise more, stop smoking, read that book we’ve started 5 times and never finished, but many times we fall short.  Many will blame this on a lack of willpower or conviction, but I disagree.  We get up every day for work, some of us commute, and we deal with angry customers or frustrating staff.  Many of us have kids that can drive us up a wall, or battle with an annoying medical condition like acid reflux or indigestion.  The fact that we don’t just give up and never get out of bed shows the incredible amount of willpower we have.  So what is the problem?  It is our culture.  A culture of watching, viewing, observing from afar, without ever having to participate.

The term I have seen commonly used for people who don’t participate is “Lurker.”  This is much like its definition when referring to a forum user who reads the content but doesn’t contribute.  We have all become very good lurkers, mostly because we haven’t had to do much by ourselves.  Our devices, vendors, and IT departments have worked to make everything as self-sufficient as possible, reducing user interaction to the bare minimum.  Although tech departments have made trainings and walkthroughs more advanced and interactive, helpdesks still are flooded with the same calls about simple things like hooking up a laptop to a projector or setting a default printer.

Am I saying all these advancements in technology are a bad thing?  Absolutely not.  We certainly want our devices to be easier to use, and we want our IT departments to make more advanced trainings.  But we can’t forget that we have an incredible ability to learn, and all it takes is a little participation.  Focusing on becoming a professional learner as opposed to a watcher will lead to an increase in productivity and will make you feel better.

Here are some ways you can help become a Professional Learner:

  • Determine Why Learning a Certain Skill is Important to You
  • Put the New Skill Into Practice. Hold Others Accountable.
  • Determine What You Don’t Know, and What Questions You Need to Ask
  • Get Others Involved in the Training Process
  • Have Fun Learning