A cartoon I saw recently depicted a dinosaur convention. The speaker is saying: “I have some good news and some bad news. The good news is that the earth’s atmosphere is warming up, the oceans are receding, and we’re entering a whole new era. The bad news is that we have a brain the size of a walnut.”

Today we face good news and bad news. The bad news is that this period of rampant social, political, and economic change is creating major upheavals in every corner of the planet. Now for the good news: As human beings we are more than capable of meeting the challenge. Unlike the dinosaurs, we have the tools to thrive in any environment because there are very few limits to our capacity to adapt, to learn, and to grow.

The message, however, is clear: In a world rocked by dramatic advances in technology and communications, those who don’t adapt or change are destined to go the way of the dinosaur.

These tidal waves of change can be both dizzying and uncomfortable leading many to cry out: “Stop world, I want to get off!” But the world won’t stop and we can’t get off. Whether this ride on Spaceship Earth is experienced as a thrill or a threat will now, more than ever, depend on our commitment to learning. In fact, we need to develop a voracious appetite for learning.

Learning, however, is much more than a ‘bottom-line’ issue. Although an important benefit of learning is that it keeps us employable, the purpose of learning is much more significant. Learning, growing, renewing is the core process of life itself. Learning nourishes our hearts, minds and souls. It keeps us fresh and vigorous.

“Real learning gets at the heart of what it means to be human,” says Peter Senge in his landmark book, The Fifth Discipline. “Through learning we re-create ourselves. Through learning we become able to do something we were never able to do. Through learning we re-perceive the world and our relationship to it. Through learning we extend our capacity to create. There is within each of us a deep hunger for this type of learning.”

 LEARNING IS ABOUT:

*Change and diversity                       *Rethinking assumptions

*Bouncing back                                  *Getting out of ruts

*Gaining self-confidence                  *Broadening your horizons

*Having fun                                        *Creativity and innovation

*Maximizing your contributions    *Finding your purpose in life

*Solving problems                             *Becoming aware

If learning is difficult, it is because learning means opening ourselves to ideas and ways of doing things that are new to us. It means going outside our comfort zones, looking at life and what we do in a different way. It means embracing the awkward, unskilled parts or ourselves and admitting that we don’t have all the answers. It means being willing to rip things apart and put them back together again in fresh, innovative combinations.

All of us enter the world as curious, natural learners. But, as adults, it is our responsibility to maintain that curiosity. Learning is about giving yourself more options, more choices. This requires learning from the unexpected, being willing to and desirous of embracing the strange or unknown. When we’re open, we’re teachable – we are not afraid to entertain new thoughts, ideas, dreams, values, or beliefs. Every encounter, every interaction and insight becomes an opportunity to be more fully engaged in our dynamic world.

“Most people are willing to pay more to be amused than to be educated.”  Edward Blishen