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By David Harder on December, 27, 2017

Why Active Learners Own the World

We used to derive our security from a job. Today we find our security from growth.


Virtually anyone in this country can access almost any information they need 24-hours-a-day. And yet, a wide range of studies indicate that America is less intelligent than just 20 years ago. At the core, many of us have become conditioned to look for the quick answer and but we retain very little. We ace tests because we have been trained in how to ace tests. Our country has entered a very real crisis in active learning because so many of our fellow Americans have lost the curiosity to learn and to grow. And yet, the rate of change has grown to point where active learning reveals our new place in the world. It keeps us ahead of the competition. Active learning is now the single most important way to grow our society.


Successful individuals and organizations know this.


Last week, I met with my colleagues and friends at Cornerstone on Demand. The tech giant has become the number one learning portal for organizations throughout the world. They are releasing products that sell the critical importance of active learning. Early this year, I interviewed Adam Miller, Cornerstone’s Founder and CEO. Much of our conversation centered around how he led a culture to greatness by growing their employees. In Silicon Valley, there is literally a trough filled with world-class talent. However, by launching the business in Santa Monica, they had to grow their own talent. By hiring and developing active learners, not only does the organization have an abundance of great talent, they have one of the lowest turnover rates in the entire tech industry.


Throughout history, curiosity has led to our greatest scientific, cultural, and human development breakthroughs. Conversely, the lack of curiosity guarantees mediocrity. Many of my readers know that I take great issue with our political leaders on both sides of the fence. Focus groups drive campaigns to forge patronizing promises about a return to the past and more jobs. I was momentarily hopeful when a Senator was talking about what to do with workers from the coal mining industry. He responded, “Well, we need plenty of truckers. We ought to be training the coal workers so they can move into the trucking industry.” Just a few months before, Daimler’s three-year pilot program in Nevada came to an end. They had driverless trucks operating throughout the state. By the end of the study, it became clear that such trucks have fewer accidents, operate 24 hours per day, and require no payroll. Once again, a political leader took enough talking points to sound cogent. But the non-qualified statement did more harm than good.


Over the years, I’ve watched so many of our participants from The Inspired Work Program commit to their life’s work. They have defined the work that matters to them. They have found a way to match their work to their career DNA. When that happens, the vast majority of them commit to learning, growing and investing in their future. Because of a clear and personalized mission, vision, and purpose, they are inspired to learn and to grow, even if that growth requires a bit of courage. How much more life-giving is that? When we settle for the quick fix (subtitled, “get me a job, just like the one I hated.”), there is no an investment. Instead of personal growth, we find stagnation and mediocrity.


I have a deep-seated respect for Cathy Sandeen, Chancellor of The University of Wisconsin. For years, Cathy has been in the forefront of studying the impact of change on education. She tells us today’s average college graduate will change careers four-to-six times. The rate of change is giving us a series of “flips” that require consistent messaging from employers, political leaders, teachers, and parents. We no longer go to school just to become “certified” in a particular profession. Higher education is an environment for learning how to learn, unlearn, and relearn. What a radical change this is from the time when getting a degree signaled the end of education.


Today, higher education isn’t an endgame, it is another opportunity to learn how to learn. Developing muscle in that practice is key for remaining competitive in our rapidly changing environments. Those of us who understand this dynamic change as quickly as the world around us. Iconic tech journalist Kevin Kelly tells us that when we are on the competitive edge, we are no longer growing towards a goal in the future. We are in a constant state of “becoming.” I am becoming used to that reality. There is an excitement that I could never have predicted. Better and better versions of myself consistently emerge. That is the case for many of the people who work with us.


What do some of the world’s most successful voices have to say about curiosity?


Albert Einstein said,


“It is a miracle that curiosity survives formal education.”


Eleanor Roosevelt suggested,


“I think, at a child’s birth if a mother could ask a fairy godmother to endow it with the most useful gift, that gift should be curiosity.”


Here are my favorite recent reads. Each one offers a learning experience unlike others:


  • The Inevitable – Understanding the 12 technological forces that will shape our future, Kevin Kelly (Viking)
  • How to Raise an Adult, Julie Lythcott-Haims, (Henry Holt & Company)
  • The Geography of Genius: A Search for the World’s Most Creative Places from Ancient Athens to Silicon Valley, Eric Weiner (Simon & Schuster)
  • The Workplace Engagement Solution – Find a common mission, vision, and purpose with all of today’s employees, David Harder (Career Press)


What do I want for 2018?


I want growth for all. For you. For our children. For our country. For our spirits.


Brought to you by David Harder, President – Inspired Work, Inc.


(C) Copyright, 2017, Inspired Work, Inc. – (All Rights Reserved)


To discuss your workplace or your career with David Harder, schedule fifteen-minutes, Here.