John Leonard an audience of one.

About Projects Now Archive

learning

I think about learning a lot. Barely a day goes by when I’m not learning something - even to the point when I’m overwhelming myself with stuff to do and then complaining that I get nothing done. Right now I have five projects on the go, all of which involve learning to some degree, and all of which are progressed to different levels. Some are started, some are not. Some have complex webs of mindmaps that try to set out a huge structure, and others have a text file with a few notes in to explain what I was thinking when I came up with the idea. In all instances, I’m learning something.

I’ve paid a lot of attention to the constant reminder that learning how to code is a skill that should be adopted by everybody. Sure, this is a bit of bias from the type of blogs I read daily, but I have always found that learning to code is something I want to do, just difficult to pursue - to do it properly requires a combination of a good quality guide to follow and the time to invest in uninterrupted learning. One of my projects requires that I pick up a series of skills in coding to make it happen and that’s the one I am trying to spend time on every day.

The adoption of the constantly learning mindset is a reminder that there are always new skills to learn. This has a mixture of good and bad points - I love learning new things, but if I’m not careful I can constantly remind myself that I don’t know everything I want to know.

I’ve broken off there for a moment as I read some feeds and was prompted to read Matt Gemmells’ excellent post “What have you tried?”. Although it doesn’t directly pertain to the subject at hand (and, I promise, I started writing this post before I even knew he had written that, several years ago), it makes a good observation. I try, as much as possible, to learn about a subject by trying things and experimenting. Indeed, I often beach myself on the shore of no knowledge long before I start asking a question; more often than not endlessly chasing down google links and obscure references before I deem to ask on the relevant forum or website for help. It’s the age old ‘men reading a map’ point - I’d rather drive around and around and around a potential location rather than simply stop and ask for directions.

In doing the ridiculous dance of experimentation - in any subject - the exercise of learning is strengthened. If you are given a solution to a problem then it does nothing to help you learn why that is the right answer, nor does it encourage the learning process - if anything, it simply prompts you to go and find more ready packaged answers to your questions. I’d readily bet that the majority of business owners, entrepreneurs and problem solvers don’t expect others to solve problems for them - they go out and find the answers themselves.

The pursuit of knowledge itself is part of the fun of learning. Often getting to the end goal and understanding something more completely should prompt one to use that information to learn something else, to build on the platform of knowledge they have acquired. To do anything else utterly undermines the point of learning in the first place.