Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Deep Learning

Image thanks to Paddlechicka, n.d., from
Kathy Sierra, Creating Passionate Users, 2006
A career colleague of mine recently shared a Medium article on LinkedIn, which centred, beyond instrumental imperatives, around a core message on the deeper benefits of learning.

Having just attended the Career Development Association's Symposium (CDANZ), where we had a robust discussion on professional development, one early paragraph in the Medium article really struck me:
"The difference between the professionals and the dreamers is that the professionals actually become students of their craft. They live and breathe learning and improvement. It’s not just 10,000 hours of it, either. Becoming a student means developing your deep work abilities. It means you practice deliberately" (Moore, 2017).
Isn't that a lovely thought? That "[b]ecoming a student means developing your deep work abilities. It means you practice deliberately" (Moore,  2017). This ties in quite nicely to what both Professor Michael Arthur and Judith Jamieson said in their respective key notes at the CDANZ symposium. What great managers - and career practitioners - have that sets them apart is intellectual curiosity. If we constantly feed our own curiosity about our profession, then we are displaying professional behaviour.

However, it is not just curiosity that we need to be professional. Moore quoted Epictetus, a Greek philosopher, who said “If [we] want to improve, be content to be thought foolish and stupid" (1 November 2017). Being prepared to learn with a beginners mind (Daft, 2008, Kuhn, 1970) is a very important part of remaining professional. Always being a naive inquirer (Miller & Rollnick, 1991). Then as things change in our profession, we update our knowledge. When we stop doing that, it is probably time for us to move on to something new.

Something else that struck me from Moore's article was the attitude of others to our learning. This related to those who are single-minded enough to pursue their own self-development:
"First they laugh at you. Then, they criticize you. Finally, they brag to others how they know you" (Moore, 2017).
This is an interesting point. Sometimes people who are very focused on gaining mastery have little time left in their lives for anything other than becoming the best at their own game. I personally feel that there is a difference between mastery and professionalism. One can become all consuming (mastery), and the other remains practice.

My friend, Mike Dooley, said that this idea of deliberate practice could be "a view of study as a 'good in itself', which would liberate it from the dictates of someone other needs/ends (the economy, an employer, status, gaining a diploma....)". I particularly like this view of study as a 'good', as an end in itself. This is probably what professional organisations are trying to embed; that part of being 'professional' is the deliberate practice of continual self-development.

While some of us are still struggling to make the shift from a fixed, "I'm done" mindset to a growth, if we are professionals, we need to move to an "I'll always be developing" mindset. 

And practice deliberately :-)



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