Throughout our lives we are constantly learning, adding new skills, and finding new ways of doing things. Whether we think about it or not from an early age we develop an "approach to learning" or a "learning mindset" that we carry with us through life, and that shapes how we face challenges, interact with the world, and how we understand the world.
Our early experiences with learning and facing challenges plays an important role in determining the basic structure of this mindset. A nurturing environment with positive experiences re-enforces a learning mindset that views challenges as something that can be overcome. A more limiting mindset may view challenges as obstacles that are impossible to surmount. The important thing to realize is that this mindset is not fixed in stone and can be modified to achieve different results.
Essentially we all have the ability to get better at learning. The learning mindset that each of us has developed is malleable, and like any other skill learning can be improved. A mindset that favours learning usually includes the following:
(1) The perspective that the skill being learned is meaningful and has value. Trying to learn something that isn't really valued will be much harder than trying to learn something that is valued and is meaningful.
(2) The realization that learning takes time, effort, and commitment. One has to be prepared to block off time during the day to spend learning.
(3) The understanding that learning requires a strategic approach which includes creating a plan consisting of clear goals and targets, and which breaks down the subject matter into manageable parts.
(4) The understanding that learning is a process that usually involves learning basic skills before building larger skill sets.
(5) Realizing that failure is part of the learning process and that it provides valuable feedback. Instead of viewing failure as a personal flaw, allow it to pique your curiosity to reveal a better way, and to enhance your learning and move you forward.
(6) The introspective practices of thinking about how well we are grasping a topic and quietly reflecting upon the subject at hand. Sometimes when we are learning something we are too keenly focused on it, and it's only when we step away from the table that we grasp some key concept.
(7) The ability to persist. Persistence is key to learning anything. When we first start to learn something it can seem overwhelming almost to the point of making us want to quit, but with some persistence it is amazing how much progress can be made.
(8) The ability to reach out to others for help. Discussing the topic with others can serve to re-enforce what we already know, but it can also fill in gaps that broaden our own knowledge.
Learning isn't always easy, but it doesn't have to be harder than need be. Having the right mindset will keep you moving forward.