Strength #2 – Learner

by on Oct.24, 2012, under Personal

#2 – Learner

From the book:

You love to learn.  The subject matter that interests you most will be determined by your other themes and experiences, but whatever the subject, you will always be drawn to the process of learning.  The process, more than the content or the result, is especially exciting for you.  You are energized by the steady and deliberate journey from ignorance to competence.  The thrill of the first few facts, the early efforts to recite or practice what you have learned, the growing confidence of a skill mastered — this is the process that entices you.  Your excitement leads you to engage in adult learning experiences — yoga or piano lessons or graduate classes.  It enables you to thrive in dynamic work environments where you are asked to take on short project assignments and are expected to learn a lot about the new subject matter in a short period of time and then move on to the next one.  This Learner theme does not necessarily mean that you seek to become the subject matter expert, or that you are striving for the respect that accompanies a professional or academic credential.  The outcome of the learning is less significant than the “getting there.”

You will always be drawn to the process of learning — This theme describes me very well, in many ways.

What does Learner mean to me?

This is my second strongest theme, and I think this and #1 stand out far above the rest.  Maybe it’s because I came from a family full of teachers?  Maybe I’ve just always been curious?  I don’t know how I came upon this as a strength, but I’m glad for it.  The thrill of the first few facts, the early efforts to recite or practice what you have learned.  This is me!

Where does Learner show evidence in my life?

Remember that Achiever theme?  Learning is an achievement to me.  Recently, I finally learned how to rehost (basically change the server name… harder than it sounds in this case) an important piece of enterprise software at work.  This is a process that had escaped me for months prior, and I finally found the missing pieces of information this past week.  I was able to complete the entire process (the growing confidence of a skill mastered) and also document exactly how I did it (the early efforts to recite or practice).  I’m sure this carried more importance for me than it did for the rest of the team, but it felt like a redeeming moment for me.

Also, recently achieved my private pilot certification — a lifelong dream of mine.  I have been reading through the accompanying textbook and I’ve just been soaking in the info in that book.  I have always wanted to fly because of the freedom and the beauty of it, but I never knew how incredibly interesting I would find the science around flying — Why does the shape of the wing cause the plane to rise in the air?  Why do piston aircraft work better near the ground, while jumbo jets get the best performance at 35,000 ft?  Why does the plane lose altitude in tight turns, and if you pull up the turns get tighter and you actually lose altitude faster?  There is so much to learn, and it’s exciting to me!

When I figure out how to do something that’s been evading me, or that seemed particularly challenging to do, I feel almost compelled to not only tell one of my coworkers, but talk through the entire process with them.  This could come off as egotistical, but in truth I think the real intent of this is to solidify what I learned in my own mind by reasoning through it once again with another, intelligent person.  Often, they are willing to add some of their own insight as well, which makes for a double learning experience — I’m solidifying what I know and adding to it at the same time!  Also if I get to listen or participate in someone else thinking through their reasoning, again I am learning as well as giving them the opportunity to articulate their thought patterns which helps them realize where their logical disconnects are (if any).

Learner is #2 in my themes for a reason — it’s a very strong theme in my life!

How can I use Learner to my advantage?

The Learner theme has some obvious advantages built right into it.  Folks with strong Learner themes will never stop improving their knowledge base throughout their lives, because it’s part of who they are.  There is always more to learn, and Learners will seek those opportunities.

That said, how can a Learner turn that strength into something more?  I was just re-reading my post on Relator and I noticed that I said this:

The interesting thing about the Relator theme is that it’s what gives me the ability to learn what drives the people around me, and therefore it leads to the ability to motivate those people.

Look at that…  I’ve already found a place where my Learner theme and my Relator theme are supporting each other.

The Learner theme should also help a lot in coordination with my Achiever theme.  Being a learner means I will always be looking for new things, in particular new hobbies.  With each new hobby comes a whole set of new goals achievements to reach for.  To flip that around, I will also use learning as an achievement to help satisfy both themes yet another way.  Whenever I learn something new (and I mean really learn it, not just get through it) I’m very proud of myself.  It’s not the kind of thing I’ll go brag about but it makes me feel good, both that I was able to learn it and the fact that I did learn it.  I hope that made sense!

I see the Learner theme a whole lot around the IT folks I work with.  Even the ones who don’t have it as a top 5 strength still tend to exhibit this theme around here.  I find that this is a theme that, while it may not be strong, it really shows through when you watch how people work.  I can’t imagine anyone having this theme as #34 on their list.  Who doesn’t like to learn new things?  Who doesn’t like adding to what they are capable of understanding and doing?  There must be people out there like this, though, with over 7 billion people on the planet!

The learner theme, I think, is the most obvious theme in my personality.  I like to think that I naturally take advantage of this theme, but talking through it here I can see a few new ways to approach it that might add a lot of value.

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