When was the last time you learnt something new?

When we are young we learn new things all the time – everything from how to eat, drink, speak and walk; through to reading, writing and how to interact with the world.

As we grow older, sometimes we don’t make much space for new learning.

Yet, learning something new is like applying WD40 to your brain – it helps it work more smoothly and efficiently.

Leadership requires the ability to stay flexible, grow from mistakes and rise to a diverse array of challenges - and these skills come from learning. Researchers from Columbia University, and the Center for Creative Leadership describe this as “learning agility”; a mind-set and corresponding collection of practices that allow leaders to continually develop, grow and utilise new strategies that will equip them for the increasingly complex problems they face in their organisations.

In short, learning is essential to keep your brain fit for leadership.

The good news is that it doesn’t have to be work related for you to benefit from the learning. One of my clients is learning a new language. Another has just enrolled in a governance course. My new thing for this year is badminton, a few years ago it was modern jive. If you need inspiration, check out this list.

There are many ways of learning new things. Make it fun and interesting and it won’t seem like hard work. Here are some things you might like to explore:

  • MOOCs –a great way to take courses from top international universities for free. Try Coursera or edX for ideas.

  • The internet is a wealth of learning – websites, videos and more. Here’s a handy list of some to check out.

  • CAE, Neighborhood houses, community centres – you can learn everything from languages to excel to cooking to wine tasting.

  • Do it yourself – a few years ago, a group of friends instituted “Learn Something Wednesday” nights where we would get together over dinner. One of the group would take the lead on our learning for the night and had complete freedom to determine the topic. We learnt everything from the making of the Australian constitution through to exploring “Benny Hill: sexist pig or creative genius?!”.

  • Explore Meet-ups for all sorts of learning fun.

So, when was the last time you did something for the first time? What have been your learning experiences? I’d love to hear from you.