One of the most important ways to develop a learning mindset is to understand what you already know. Learn how to create an inventory of what you have already learned.
- One of the most important ways to develop a learning mindset is to understand what you already know. Yet most of us are blind to what we've already learned in our lives. Let's fix that by creating an inventory of what you've learned. As humans we tend to do two things that keep us from knowing what we've already learned. The first thing we do is to assume that everyone else can do what we do so we don't think what we've learned is all that special. Each of us has a completely unique mix of skills and other attributes. Because our intrinsic skills are part of us, we're blind to how unique we are.
The second thing we tend to do as humans is that we discount what we've already accomplished. Learning anything of substance can seem like climbing a mountain. When you stand at the bottom looking up, it can seem insurmountable. How could I possibly learn all that I need to learn to be able to climb that mountain? The path can be long and arduous, but eventually, finally, you reach the top and you look down, and for some reason the ground below doesn't seem so far. Then you look up at the next mountain to climb.
When it comes to learning, we don't have an automatic inventory function in our brains. So I'm going to assume you need to do an exercise to remind yourself. So, download the worksheet from the exercise files and take a look at worksheet number one, your knowledge inventory. Think back over the various phases of your life. In your mind, separate them into different threads or parallel lines. The formal learning you've had, the various places you've worked and what you learned there, and what you learned in your leisure or personal time.
Add a fourth line for whatever doesn't fit in the other three. Think about the subjects you took in school no matter how long ago you were in school. Remember the teachers and the courses that stood out to you. Which of these bodies of knowledge do you still feel you have? For example, knowing accounting principles or how to create a lesson plan for a class you're teaching, or how to repair a car engine. Next, think of what you learned in work situations. What information did you gather in the various jobs and projects where you worked? For example, how to manage other people or how to write a software program, or how to analyze complex business problems.
Next, look back on your personal leisure time. What hobbies did you pursue? What projects did you do? What subjects drew you in so much that you studied them outside of a formal learning process? What sports did you practice and what did you learn just for fun? Finally, in the other row, add anything else that jumps out to you, like something you learned from a mentor or watching a documentary movie, or just in conversation with someone. Try to be as comprehensive as possible. Don't filter out a subject just because you're unsure if you really mastered it.
Your goal is to try to get as comprehensive an inventory as you can. Don't feel pressured if you can't remember everything you've learned. Think of this as a record that you can continually add to when something else occurs to you. Now for bonus points, show this chart to one or two people you know. Is there anything else they'd point out that you know? Put that on the chart too. Now, once you've done this, you'll have your first step towards your learning inventory.