Staying Ahead of the Curve: Always Be Learning

In this article, I share my personal journey and the transformative impact of lifelong learning on my professional growth. Find practical tips and a list of resources to kickstart or enhance your own learning journey.

Heather Pridemore

5/31/20232 min read

The early part of my career, marked by a blend of youthful enthusiasm and endless energy, I took on stretch assignments that were quite literally, the "stretchiest." It was during these years that I learned the most about life, myself, and my natural acumen for business. My curiosity was insatiable, fueling a desire for continuous learning which was only a product of my ambition but a tool to compensate for the insecurity I felt by bridging the gap between my blue-collar upbringing and the white-collar professional landscape I was navigating.

Over the years, this dedication to continuous learning has proved to be a pivotal part of my career development. Every week as a current MBA candidate, I learn something that I can immediately apply to my work - be it solving a problem by quickly absorbing the most recent and relevant content, or applying a spark of insight born out of a stimulating discussion or reading. This process has consistently brought me a sense of fulfillment.

So how can one incorporate continuous learning into their daily routine amidst a hectic schedule? The answer lies in creating small, easily achievable habits and stacking them with existing ones, a strategy eloquently explained by James Clear in his book "Atomic Habits." For me, this means always having a book at hand and prioritizing information based on its relevance and immediacy (this also means I have four or more books in progress at any given time).

Moreover, we are fortunate to live in a time where a wealth of resources for learning is just a click away. Here are a few that I have found invaluable:

  • TED talks: For inspiring ideas and stories

  • Coursera: Access free courses from top universities worldwide

  • MasterClass: Learn from the world's best with masterclass taught by industry leaders and celebrity experts

  • Udemy: Diverse course offerings on virtually every subject, often at affordable prices or even free (check your local public library benefits)

  • ChatGPT: Interact with AI to gain insights, ask questions, and learn on a range of topics, all at your own pace

  • Linkedin Learning: Gain access to a vast library of professional courses and skill-building content, tailored to your industry and interests, directly from your Linkedin account

But it's not just about books and online resources. Continuous learning for me has taken the form of a subscription to Harvard Business Review, following thought leaders on social media, attending conferences - both virtual and in person, enrolling in webinars, taking courses, and watching documentaries. While podcasts in the car are a great option for some, I prefer to use that time for reflection and relaxation (aka: listening to my music too loud while driving too fast and reflecting on the day).

Challenges? Of course, the same one as most of you - time is the primary obstacle. The enthusiasm to learn can sometimes lead me to overcommit, resulting in missed opportunities. But remember, what we miss today will likely circle back in the future. The key is to remain open and reassess those opportunities when they reappear.

Continuous learning has been my compass in navigating rapid changes in my roles and responsibilities. Whether staying abreast with industry trends or innovating processes based on learnings from advanced industries, the skill and habit of continuous learning has been invaluable.

Every time my role changes or I experience a professional shift I'm faced with the need to evolve my thinking or doing. These transitions, rather than acting as obstacles, have been avenues for learning and growth.