On Accountability and The Initiative to Learn

Lots of tools exist. The knowledge is likely out there somewhere, maybe even documented. Information is everywhere. There are willing teachers, armed with experience and context and the ability to explain things in a way that can help you learn.

But you have to want to learn. Not just hear. Not just receive information. But learn.

Every day, I hear another story of someone telling me that they need more tools. They need more this or that to do their jobs. They don’t have enough information or training or case studies or data or collateral or something.

There’s no question that there are legitimate holes sometimes in our information systems. And as businesses, we have a responsibility to do our best to equip the people that work with us with the information and tools they need to do their jobs. Accepted.

But what we need are more people with the initiative and the moxie to seek out that information, to improve the information that’s out there, to make the effort to learn it rather than just regurgitate it, to rethink it, even, and to actively pursue and assist with the creation of what’s missing.

Waiting for someone to hand you the instruction manual isn’t interesting. It isn’t ambitious. Hell, it’s pretty close to completely lazy. And it isn’t doing you any favors when it comes to broadening your own skills and expertise and creating value for your customers, your company, or your own career.

Quit looking for a PDF to hand to your boss or a stock slide deck to email to your customer. Quit waiting for someone else to answer all the questions for you so you can just pass the information along. Quit bitching about the blog post that no one has written or the case study that hasn’t been shared. Those are excuses, not legitimate roadblocks.

Roll up your sleeves. Ask smart questions, and listen to the answers. Try something. Create something. Answer the question, or don’t stop until you can at least try. Be accountable for seeking your own knowledge, and give yourself the gift of having a more rich, interesting, diverse and powerful information arsenal right inside your own head.

We need more learners. You can’t change the world waiting for someone else to tell you how.

  • http://twitter.com/susangiurleo susangiurleo

    Seems like we need more DO-ers and CREATE’ers.  Learning is passive. We can Google for information all day long. Doing something with it, another story. Creating your own things is a whole level beyond that. The tools we have now allow us to create. There is no ‘push here for instant outcome,’ platforms anymore. Those who are lazy, dull or weak in creativity will struggle in this new world of work. Businesses need to send their staffs on creativity retreats, rather than to another conference that teaches them tools.

    • http://www.jasonkonopinski.com Jason Konopinski

      I disagree that learning is passive. Higher level learning – learning that prompts actual measurable change in perspective or paradigm – is decidedly active. 

    • Omochan

      I guess it depends on how you define learning or what category of learning you’re talking about. Most of my learning is kinetic — I have to learn by trying to do this or that or while doing this or that — so I have to move and remember what I did in order for the information to be taken in.

      I don’t think the idea is to move about, but to be an active participant in the learning process. There’s an input-processing-output part. I think what Amber touches on here is that the processing part is being skipped. That doesn’t make learning a passive thing — that makes for passive people that pseudo-learn.

      …and pseudo-learning sucks.

      The touchstone to all of this? A test. People that learn can handle tests and even change. People that regurgitate? They break down. 

  • http://twitter.com/webby2001 Tom Webster

    I need you to explain this post to me, preferably in slideshare.

    Er…strike that.

    Great post, Amber. As a fellow autodidact, I’m always flummoxed by the incurious.

  • Joe Speciale

    Amen

  • http://www.wrightcreativity.com Kirsten Wright

    Learning (like @twitter-16809682:disqus said) can be passive, but there is an active way to learn, and THAT is the key to success.In addition to actively learning, we have to actively let it sink in too. Just because we learn it, doesn’t mean we remember it or put it to use. Both have to be done in addition to make the learning process complete

    • http://www.usbdriverecovery.com recovery from usb

      I do agree that most attractive and effective approach in order to learn things posses an active push; this brings a direct and most frequent results in an easy way; having this result oriented technique brings great results in this regard.

  • Nick Westergaard

    Awesome post, Amber. Love it. We do need more learners, creators, and doers. Not more sheep waiting for where to be led. As a marketer, I cringe whenever we hear about the allusive piece of “collateral” that is keeping someone or some team from fame and fortune. So many of my favorite quotes speak to this point like …

    “It is common sense to take a method and try it. If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something.” – FDR

    “We have a ‘strategic plan.’ It’s called doing things.” – Herb Kelleher

    Again – great post. Cheers!

  • Nick Westergaard

    Awesome post, Amber. Love it. We do need more learners, creators, and doers. Not more sheep waiting for where to be led. As a marketer, I cringe whenever we hear about the allusive piece of “collateral” that is keeping someone or some team from fame and fortune. So many of my favorite quotes speak to this point like …

    “It is common sense to take a method and try it. If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something.” – FDR

    “We have a ‘strategic plan.’ It’s called doing things.” – Herb Kelleher

    Again – great post. Cheers!

  • Nick Sweeney

    I like it.

    Don’t dread. DO.

  • Nick Sweeney

    I like it.

    Don’t dread. DO.

  • http://hoop.la Rosemary ONeill

    I was recently pondering this very issue, realizing that I have so many ebooks, blog subscriptions, etc.  I was in a habit of reading all of it and just letting it wash over me in the hopes that it would just “sink in.”  But I made a small change this week that has already paid dividends—I’ve started actually taking physical notes while reading articles and blog posts that inspire me.  So now I come away with action items instead of a general, vague feeling of “gee I should do something…”

  • http://thesocialjoint.com/ Lucretia M Pruitt

    I was just telling my daughter today that she has two choices when she grows up – she can be the person who constantly says “well no one told me to do that!” or she can be the person that notices a problem, looks for the solution, and applies it.

    I’ll have to remember to add in “and remember that your best solution is to learn, not to just wait for someone to teach you.

  • http://ShivaConnect.com Srosen

    I am a “doer” who created a technology to help Jewish mourners at a time of loss, http://ShivaConnect.com a free resource that features a “ShivaRegistry” to quickly and conveniently post funeral & shiva information, coordinate food for the bereavement period, make memorial donations and find helpful resources.  Quite a challenge to be a leader- to encourage people to use a new and innovative means to communicate!  

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