By Dave Kahle

Self-Directed Learning: Transforming Knowledge into Action

Self-Directed Learning

Navigating your way through complexity in a rapidly changing, information-saturated world.

The pace of change has increased, the growth in complexity has multiplied, and information has proliferated at an unprecedented pace. We are in extraordinary times. And unprecedented times call for unique and disciplined approaches if we are to survive and thrive. In this sixth of a series, I unpack a set of recommendations for strategies, processes, attitudes, habits, and disciplines to build into your lives and businesses in order to help us survive and thrive in these unprecedented times.

We need to make sure that we are building into our lives and businesses the proper infrastructure to help us survive and thrive – both personally as well as organizationally.

It’s like building a sailboat designed for treacherous seas – we need to create the proper sails that propel us forward, and, at the same time, build in the proper keels that keep us on track. This dynamic tension between the forces that propel us forward and those that hold us back is what allows us to live a life of balance and fulfillment and guides our businesses to realize the potential they have.

So far, we’ve identified sails – those disciplines, attitudes, and habits that propel us forward — and keels – those that hold us down to unchangeable principles:

So far, we have examined these sails:

  • An acceptance of personal responsibility
  • An attitude of openness
  • A propensity to take risks
  • A focus on strengths

We’ve also looked at these keels:

  • An articulated vision or purpose
  • The discipline of regular reflecting and planning.
  • The discipline of rational thinking.

It’s time for our next sail: The discipline of continuous self-directed learning.

When most of us hear the word “learning” we often associate it with formal school, or perhaps seminars and company-sponsored training programs. While these are all means of facilitating learning, they don’t capture the essence of what I’m talking about.

The kind of teaching/learning that is done in academia revolves around the transfer of information. The focus is on what you know, and the measurement is the score on an exam.

For adults, on the job, the focus is different. Here it is all about behavior change. I often tell salespeople in my seminars “I don’t care what you know. You are not paid for what you know. You are paid for what you do.”

Self-directed learning is the ability, on the part of the individual, or the organization, to absorb new information about the world or oneself, and to change one’s behavior in positive ways in response to it. The key is behavior change. Learning without action is impotent. Gaining knowledge that does not result in changed action is of little value.

Let’s say, for example, that you invest in a new software program. You bring in the trainers and dedicate time to training your staff on the new program. The trainer gives a final exam, and everyone passes with 100%. The next day, no one uses the new software. They learned it intellectually but never made the leap to changed behavior. For adults, on the job, the knowledge that doesn’t result in changed action is worthless.

Self-directed learning manifests as both a personal discipline, as well as a strategic piece of an organization’s culture….CLICK HERE TO READ FULL ARTICLE.

Copyright MMXXI by Dave Kahle. All rights reserved.

Originally published: Self-Directed Learning: Part Nine of The Navigating Complexity Series | Dave Kahle

About the author:

Dave Kahle is one of the world’s leading sales authorities. He’s written twelve books, presented in 47 states and eleven countries, and has helped enrich tens of thousands of salespeople and transform hundreds of sales organizations. His book, How to Sell Anything to Anyone Anytime, has been recognized by three international entities as “one of the five best English language business books.” Check out his latest book, The Good Book on Business.