As people move through adulthood, it can become more and more difficult to view themselves as learners. So long as people feel competent enough in their jobs and comfortable in what they know, people may think that learning has become irrelevant in their lives. However, everyone should consider themselves a lifelong learner.
Anytime people encounter a new and unfamiliar situation, they engage in a learning process. Their mental wheels turn to figure out how to apply existing knowledge to understand the new situation, evaluate the unknowns of the situation and hypothesize the best plan of action based on analysis of these unknowns. In other words, anytime people confront something new, they have to learn how to make sense of it. As technologies, materials and project management methodologies continuously change, construction project managers need to constantly engage in new learning.
For project managers who have been in the same position for a long time, confronting new situations can be challenging—particularly when they upset long-held views of how the world works. However, being stuck in the current level of knowledge and skills is not the only option. All project managers—and people—are capable of changing how they learn in order to better adapt to new situations. Learning how to learn faster can benefit project managers in the following ways:
- Learning faster allows project managers to make better decisions. When the ability to make sense of and respond to new information and situations is sped up, project managers are able to make decisions based on well-rounded and thoroughly processed information. The accelerated learning technique of mind-mapping allows project managers to see connections across ideas, which improves their ability to take a wider range of variables into account when we make decisions.
- Learning faster improves the discernment of new information. In other words, accelerated learning gives project managers a more calibrated meter for false information. One accelerated learning technique that helps with discernment is called rapid synthesis—quickly identifying the most important, core elements of new information encountered and integrating it with information from other sources. With the ability to quickly process and make sense of new information using rapid synthesis, project managers are less likely to fall victim to false information, poorly supported claims or exaggeration. This skill is particularly important in today’s world of “fake news.”
- Learning faster improves brain health and helps with aging. There are five learning speed bumps that can actually age your brain: righteousness, entitlement, victim-ness, insecurity and anxiety. By replacing these with curiosity, gratitude, choice, confidence and calm focus, parts of the brain are engaged that can actually improve with age, increasing access to working memory and stimulating better instant recall. With accelerated learning, project managers will step out of their comfort zone more easily—a necessary step to stimulating the creativity needed to address immediate and far-reaching challenges.
Even if project managers feel that they’ve moved past the learning stage of their lives, learning how to learn faster can help further develop their current skillset and enrich their quality of life.