A Learning Professional’s Self-Reflection…

insightIn a recent interview an industry-reporter recently asked me a couple of interesting questions that I thought I would share with you. The questions asked to me were, “What else would you do if you weren’t involved with learning? What would you improve about yourself and Your L&D Approach?

I wanted to share my responses with you not to only demonstrate that I practice what I preach (more than other sector-experts claim) but to also to encourage you to self-reflect as well. It is truly a very introspective exercise and will help you to improve something as learning professionals we are expected to do.

So, here are my answers.

Q1) What Else Would You Do If You Weren’t Involved With Learning?

It may be serendipitous but I am only involved in L&D because I have a passion for learning. I thought about this question and the role seems to fit well and it may be due to the fact I was raised by parents that were professors. But since learning is my passion, this also leads me to want to learn a lot of other things. There are so many things I want to try once and may enjoy doing.

I love a lot of things but most of all I love it when someone tells me something can’t be done. It’s like putting a red sheet in front of a bull. I believe that nothing is impossible. The reason some use the “impossible” excuse only because they don’t want to put in the effort or don’t have the required resources.

So, for me, life’s about learning everything possible. I don’t think there’s much I would do except to keep learning and capitalize on new opportunities that present themselves. Ultimately, I truly appreciate the Learning space because I get to help others and pay it forward…something that is not done enough. Life’s about the challenges we face and the opportunity to overcome them (notice that I said opportunity not “challenge”)

Q2) What Would You Improve About Yourself and Your L&D Approach?

I believe that I am a work in progress. I know that I can improve many aspects about myself and new elements come up all of the time. If I gave a list of the know aspect I need to improve you would be reading for a long time. I am my own toughest critic and that, at times, can either be good or bad…but at least I am doing it.  If you fail to recognize that you are also a work-in-progress and must continually improve then you are either very arrogant or simply ignorant.

Human beings are a flawed species and we learn from mistakes we make. Learning professionals hold a bigger responsibility…they are seen as learners and change agents. Unfortunately, I encounter too many of my learning professional peers that love the status quo and refuse to learn anything new. They coast on what they know and what they preach from their pulpit hoping no one will notice. This is simply selfish not to themselves but more to the audience that hangs on their words of advice. I see this as an injustice and these individuals must be held accountable.introspection

We are in the learning profession, damn it, and our responsibility is to challenge preconceived notions and facilitate the learning of new things. I am talking to you…take responsibility for your own learning and go beyond what you know. I do way too often and at times it scares the crap out of me. But whether I succeed or fail, ultimately I learned something new.

I take this responsibility very seriously and as a privilege and believe everyone involved in any way with the learning function and profession should do so as well…or get out of the profession!

Q3) What advice can you give others to help them thrive in L & D?

Someone once told me that they believe that giving advice is only a form of nostalgia and personal regrets. To a certain extent this is very true so I try to temper the advice I give to others. What I try to do is suggest  things that I will do or have done…call it advice but it is meant to be helpful and always developmental.

Here is the first suggestion: If you are a Learning professional then never forget you are also a learner. This means you must always challenge the status quo, never accept what is accepted, and be a practicing critical thinker.

The next suggestion is my personal philosophy I learned from a close friend. It is something that is best to reflect upon and to determine what it means to you. He told me once, “Ajay, if you’re not living life on the edge then you’re taking up too much space!

Finally, let me leave you with the words of Mahatma Gandhi, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world”.

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