Lessons from my 7-year-old: What Did You Learn Today?

wordflowerThis article was originally published on LinkedIn.  View the original post here.

One of the first questions that I always ask my daughter when I pick her up from school, aside from “how was your day?,” is “what did you learn in school today?” It’s a question that has become routine, a habit of conversation that allows my little girl and I to ease out of one phase of our day and into the next. That said, it’s not a benign question – nor should it be. It’s a question we should be asking ourselves every day, too.

When did we decide that we had accomplished the optimal level of knowledge? Was it when we finished school? Was it when we got “real jobs” and grew families and started having our own bills to pay? Was it when money, for whatever our purposes, began to take more priority over personal growth?

I like to say I’m a lifetime learner. I am someone who enjoys school, enjoys learning new skills, and developing both personally and professionally. I believe that our growth never stops unless we let it. It only becomes less obvious than when we were small children, growing out of our clothes every six months and full of wonder at the world. So, perhaps, it is more important than ever, as grown professionals, to ask ourselves that question: “What did I learn today (this month, this year)?”

What’s great about this question is that it can help us, not only to grow, but to process. Going through a tough time? Ask yourself, “what have I learned from this experience?” This is true for any experience: from a bad (or good) relationship, to a bad (or good) employer; a mistake you (or another) made; or a failure (or a win) you experienced.

Our brains don’t stop learning once we’re grown and it’s more important than ever to continue to innovate yourself. A lot of professional gurus talk about personal brand and owning your own career path. In my experience, the best way to improve your value to an employer is through continual improvement. The first step is acknowledging the need to continue learning. The next step is to recognize when you’ve accomplished that learning.

So, tell me: “What have you learned today?”

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