Stephen Covey wrote, “Most of our mental development and study discipline comes through formal education. But as soon as we leave the external discipline of school, many of us let our minds atrophy. We don’t do any more serious thinking, we don’t explore new subjects in any real depth outside our action fields, we don’t think analytically, we don’t write – at least not critically or in a way that tests our ability to express ourselves in distilled, clear and concise language.”
Just to allow for context, those words were published in 1989, and were probably an extension of his thinking from earlier years. And I add that because I think he is slightly mistaken.
(WHAT!!! A disciple questioning the Master! Next he’ll be chopping off his master’s arm and running the Jedi himself!)
Worry ye not. I think he is mistaken now because more and more people are subject to constant training at work, whereas in 1989 in-house, on-the-job developmental training was less de rigueur than it is now. No diversity, first-aid, health and safety input back in those days, and CPD hadn’t been invented yet.
But the essential premise remains sound. Few of us actively seek out additional training, while even being reluctant to attend that which is provided at work.
Which is self-defeating.
Every professional update improves your ability to execute on your responsibilities, and every voluntary educational experience broadens your mind and improves personal creativity. And quite often, what you learn away from your professional life impacts on that professional life. I did a law course in 1999 and the stuff I learned there certainly impacted positively on what I did at work. It changed my level of thinking and vastly improved my understanding of Sith (defence lawyers) practices, which I promptly turned back upon them, mwahahahahahahaha!
But it doesn’t have to be formal training, although that is best.
Every article you read on a subject of interest to you is an example of well-spent time. That’s why I write these articles, yet keep them short. It’s a minute, maybe two, away from your work focus but it might just broaden your thinking and/or provide new tools for increased quality of productivity without an increase in quantity (although you do get to do more of what you like, of course). And other writers on other subjects can add to your toolbox, either in work or just for qualified conversation at a posh dinner.
The message today is to take two minutes to read more articles – on LinkedIn or elsewhere – and identify areas of interest that will make you smarter.
One caveat. At the end of the opening, quoted paragraph Covey added, “Instead, we spend our time watching TV.” There is a lot of good stuff on TV, and I like an escapist cop-show as much as anyone. But the drivel that peppers the airwaves (The Masked Singer? FGS!) serves no-one’s interests but the financiers. Watching them takes more than two minutes and only provides the vapid with dinner conversation.
Go back to reading if you need 30-60 minutes that will make you better as an intellectual. Or just take two and use them wisely, Padawan. Better still, read this twice so it sits comfortably in your pre-frontal lobe and causes you to see your next valuable, voluntary training opportunity.
Speaking of which……. Me book. (Blatant plug.)