Are you growing or learning or both?

Jann FreedLeading, Learning Leave a Comment

I’ve been thinking about the difference between learning and growing. Is there a difference? As I said in my last post, I am taking two online courses and it is keeping me busy–maybe too busy. 

I know that continuing to learn and getting out of our comfort zones is good for us. It keeps us interested, relevant, and able to engage with others.

The best definition I could find was this:

Learning results in new knowledge.

Growing results in change.

In order to learn, we can do many things such as read books, take courses, and write. But growth comes from applying the knowledge we are gaining. I started thinking about this because of all of the young people who are starting their own businesses or working for startups.

I have an office in a building where there is a mixture of offices and open spaces for rent. The building is called Collaborate DSM and the owner and manager (who also have an office in the building) work hard to create an environment where we all feel part of the team. We all share nice kitchen space and there are two conference rooms available for reserving for meetings–one large and one small. We have an office pool going for the NCAA and we have a fun gift exchange at holiday time.

I know I benefited from having colleagues and mentors at work. If you work alone or in a small company, you may be learning, but are you growing? Where will you get the feedback that you may need to hear? We can all learn from each other. We can also teach or coach others in what they may need to know–upon request. I like to ask our younger office manager for fashion advice since I call her my fashionista!

This article explains more about how to differentiate between learning and growing. Growth requires honest feedback and we have to have people who will give us the feedback we need for growth. We need someone to point out our blindspots–those things others can see about us that we can’t. I define blindspots as “broccoli in your teeth” or “dandruff on your shoulders!”

Self-reflection and self-awareness are critical. We can only improve those things of which we are aware. You might think I am only talking about the workplace, but I am not. How are you growing and learning as a person? As a spouse or parent? As a friend?

School never ends. But it is easy as we get older to get set in our ways–to not want to change. According to Joseph Coughlin, you may live another 8000 days! Plenty of time to keep growing.

If you want to become a sage (and I have a monthly podcast where I interview people about wisdom), push yourself to get out of your comfort zone. There are online courses, art courses, college courses you could audit, groups you can join to learn a language or dance lessons. Don’t let your age get in the way.

When I was in high school, I was a bad church organist and I am not being modest. In fact, I did not even have a substitute so I couldn’t skip or be ill. I did this for $5 a Sunday for four years! If I did not know the notes, I just skipped them and no one knew or seemed to care. I had friends who were much better than me at playing the organ, but I couldn’t get them to do it.

I did not realize the commitment until I had my three sons in high school. But I have been taking piano lessons for 10 years now. I will never be good, but I certainly have improved and I find practicing relaxing. I also think it is good for memory.

How will you ensure you are growing? What is one thing you can do soon to get out of your comfort zone?