Want To Learn How to Improve Yourself? Look Inward: Self – Directed Learning

In the book Primal Leadership, the authors argue that practicing and learning how to improve yourself by focusing on EQ competencies adds more long-term value to reaching your potential then studying IQ related skills.

They share with you multiple data points backing up their argument. One, in particular, is a study comparing MBA programs where one program focuses on students improving their EQ competencies and the other students focus on a typical MBA class. They have been running this study since 1990 and it has shown that the students who worked to improve their EQ competencies in the study allowed them to retain what they learned up to 5 to 7 years after graduating vs. students who did not work to improve EQ only about 1 to 2 years. Even better, they found that the students who originally worked to improve their EQ competencies didn’t just improve their EQ but improved in other areas of work faster and better than others.

Why is it that when studying things that relate to improving your IQ you forget them more quickly over time? According to Daniel Goleman, he explains that we go through a “honeymoon effect” after training and learning something new. This is the period of time after we learn something where we try to implement and use it, but slowly as time goes on we forget it.

Why does the honeymoon effect happen?

  • Majority of people truly believe they can not change. Going to a training most people immediately tell themselves they will not get anything out of this training.
  • We can’t learn something when it is forced on us. We learn when we want to learn.
  • As we become more experienced in our careers/life we start to take less feedback from others – What is widely referred to as the “CEO Disease” – we rarely choose to receive or listen to any feedback on ourselves.

What does science have to say about it?

According to science, you need to tap into your limbic brain NOT your neocortex. Most training target the neocortex which is our thinking brain. This part of our brain captures information rapidly and allows us to remember things we read or hear very quickly. On the other hand, the limbic brain is a much more slow learner as it focuses on emotions. By focusing training on the limbic brain (emotions) it takes a ton of repetition and practice whereas the neocortex can learn something after one repetition. The problem is that learning requires that you take action to implement what you have learned. This is where is where people fail to learn what they were taught.

So, if you want to truly learn and tap into your potential how can you do that?

The authors share with us what they call the “Self-Directed Learning” process. Learning and development come from within, and to combat the honeymoon effect you need to look inward to understand who you are and who you want to be. These exercises below can help guide you to become the best version of yourself.

  1. My Ideal Self – Who do I want to be?

This question helps lead you to who you truly want to be as a person and more importantly, a leader. By setting a future goal or end result you will stay motivated through the good times and bad times to keep going till you discover your ideal self.

  1. My Real Self – Who am I? What are my strengths and weaknesses? What are the gaps?

The toughest question of all. The moment when you truly look at yourself and reflect on how you act, how others view you and how your beliefs impact your actions. The best way to help answer this question is asking for feedback from your team, friends/family, or peers. It will be harsh, but you will uncover what you’re good at and where the gaps are to truly achieve your ultimate goal of becoming your ideal self.

  1. My Learning Agenda – What action do I need to take to make up the gap?

You know who you want to be, and what areas you need to improve to become that person. The best way to do that is building an action plan. It can be as detailed as a daily action, or it could be broader like monthly or annual goals. The only thing that matters is following through on taking the steps to improve. Easier said than done. So, it always recommended that you start small, and build on this question as you go.

  1. Experimenting – How can you take action and practice new behaviors, thoughts, and the feeling to the point of mastery?

This question lies in taking action after you built your plan. This is the hardest part for most and will be the question that makes or breaks someone. If you are truly committed to becoming a better perspn then you need to start practicing behaviors, thoughts, and feelings that will help close the gap.

  1. Relationships – Who in your life can help you make these changes possible?

No one will believe in you if you don’t believe in yourself. That is the first step, and hopefully, if you are asking yourself this questions you already believe in your own abilities to improve yourself. If that is true, then you will need others in your life to help support you as you grow and evolve.

Now, Wake Up. It’s Day One! Time to start looking inward. May the choice be with you. To learn more about leadership and emotional intelligence buy the book here.

Leave a Reply