Darryl Robinson-Keys

Six Life Lessons from Continual Learning

By: Darryl Robinson-Keys | January 5, 2016 | 

Six Life Lessons from Continual Learning

By Darryl Robinson-Keys 

What is your New Year’s resolution? To exercise more? To eat less butterfingers? Some type of commitment that involves improving your physical health?

What about that muscle between your ears?

It needs exercising, too.

What is your 2016 synaptic strengthening strategy?

My New Year’s resolution for 2016 is to become Google Analytics certified, as well as complete a certified Digital Marketing Management course.

Those are my goals because I am a perpetual learner. I rejoice with each return to the hallowed halls of academia, I crave for accreditation, I aspire to achieve the A+, I am a connoisseur of continuing education.

Here are a few life lessons I have learned from continuing education.

Continual Learning Keeps You Young

When you enter the classroom for a continuing education course, it is reasonably likely a number of your classmates will be younger than you.

That classmate collaboration fosters the sharing of ideas, offering new perspectives for your consideration. It allows you to see the world through the lens of another generation and, in the process, it revitalizes your understanding of what is possible.

As further proof of this, I defy you to find a grey hair on my head.

Continual Learning Fosters New Friendships

For example, as a result of taking the digital strategy and communications management program offered through the University Toronto, I have formed friendships with instructors such as Martin Waxman, Eden Spodek, Alison Garwood-Jones, and Donna Papacosta.

I have had the privilege of connecting with Gini Dietrich, who introduced me to the Spin Sucks community.

Through this community I have had the pleasure of associating with other talented individuals such as Laura Petrolino and Corina Manea, caring people such as Paula Kiger and Anneliz Hannan, insightful people such Danny Brown, Howie Goldfarb, and Shonali Burke, along with other clever crazies such as Kate Nolan and Ken Jacobs, to name just a few.

Guest speakers, such as Erin Bury of Creative 88 and Sheldon Levine of Marketwired, have graciously allowed me to reach out to them to seek advice.

As well, I still keep in touch with a few alumni classmates including Bill Smith and Sarah Khan.

Learning is an immensely social opportunity to connect with those who genuinely want to impart their knowledge and share their passion with you. 

Everyone Loves a Learner 

There is an attractive quality about curious people, those who want to know more.

We admire those who are able to balance family with career and still find time to continue with their education.

We are impressed by those who are driven to self-improvement, inspired by their academic ambitions and delighted by their goal to be of more value within our society.

Continual Learning Keeps You Relevant

Reading articles on Mashable, PRDaily, or LinkedIn are great ways of staying aware of day-to-day updates within the industry.

However, continuing educational courses are taught by people who work in the the field.

Courses are structured to provide pertinent, practical case studies used as real-life examples to support the concepts and approaches of the curriculum.

Concepts that can be taken and applied within your job or every day work life to enhance your skill set.

Continual Learning Encourages You to Explore 

Learning doesn’t end with the last slide in the deck, courses generously offer copious amounts of extra materials, suggested readings, videos, blogs, and recommended subject matter experts to follow over social.

Far more than can be digested during the span of a course.

As you work your way through this extra material, you may become aware of other opportunities to develop and measure your understanding of concepts that appeal to you.

Case in point, I realized the benefits with pursuing HootSuite, HubSpot, and Google Adwords accreditations as a result of reviewing the added material associated with continuing studies.

Continual Learning Provides a Clarity of Purpose

We are surrounded with disruptions and distractions and there is a constant demand for our attention. Staying focused requires discipline and discipline is a learned trait that requires practice and relies on diligence.

Continual learning acts as a sharpening tool to help us hone our skills and remain successful.

I hope your New Year offers you new insights to learning, new means of polishing your skills, and new ideas on how to advance your academic interests.

Here is list of learning sites to help you along the way:

How do you provide yourself continual learning?

About Darryl Robinson-Keys

Darryl is a Toronto based freelance social media professional. He holds certifications in Digital Strategy & Communications Management, HubSpot Inbound Marketing and Google AdWords. Darryl offers SEO, AdWords and Google Analytics assistance to small and medium size businesses. During the summer months he shares his passion for paddling the great lakes as a part-time kayak instructor.

  • Awwwww……my brain was still trying to get through “synaptic strengthening strategy” when I saw my name. That is very kind. I am grateful to this community in so many ways. 🙂

  • Excellent points. Today I primarily learn through reading, but I have considered taking college courses that have nothing to do with writing or PR…like Celtic history. And learning a skill that involves working with your hands is invaluable, too. And cathartic.

  • Continual learning is so important but we don’t talk about it enough. Thanks for summarizing key points here @Digital_DRK . The number of connections we make with interesting and intelligent people through continual learning is incredible. I believe it was Chris Brogan who started the “my three words” meme a few years ago whereby he shares the three words that signify his goals for the new year. “Learn. Share. Grow.” have been my three words for several years, possibly even predating social media, if there’s such a thing. 😉 It’s so important and one of the reasons I teach is because it forces me to keep learning.

  • EdenSpodek “Continual learning is so important but we don’t talk about it enough.” This is so true, Eden. It’s the only way to stay on top of things and relevant.

  • Reading as much as possible, from books (I have a long reading list thanks to the crazies community), articles, PR & non-PR blogs, online courses. Over the years I discovered I learn better and faster when I do it by myself, at home, compared to going to “physical” classes. And online courses are the perfect solution.

  • Corina Manea  I tend to agree self-paced learning is certainly a flexible learning alternative, it just requires a pinch more discipline.

  • EdenSpodek  Thanks Eden, I like that meme, Learn, Share, Grow.  Chris’s 3 words for 2016 are Home, Shine, Win.   http://chrisbrogan.com/3-words-2016/

  • Word Ninja  Feeding your passion will help fuel your profession.  Celtic history that sounds interesting Amanda, is there an ancestorial connection driving that interest?

  • biggreenpen  Try saying that 10 times really fast.   🙂

  • Word Ninja  Working with you hands can be…..cathartic  😉

  • Digital_DRK How did you know about my college crush???

  • Digital_DRK Strangely enough, I didn’t find a connection until years after I developed an interest. I like this! “Feeding your passion will help fuel your profession.”

  • Word Ninja An educated guess….( pun intended )  😉

  • Hope this doesn’t make me a bad person: I love learning, but I really hate school! I read a ton and soak up stuff like a sponge and incorporate the learning in my practice, but attending classes really gives me the hives! In college I spent most of my time in a windowless basement working at the newspaper.

  • RobBiesenbach   I am assuming you are not including the Second City classes you took?  You just reminded me I should have included my Second City Toronto classes (continual learning). 😉

  • Digital_DRK Oh my gosh, you’re right! Plus other acting classes. (Plus some presentation training, etc.) Can’t believe I blanked on that, but I guess the lesson is: take a class in something you really love and are interested in and it won’t feel like drudgery!
    Yes, and!

  • RobBiesenbach   “Accept every offer as a  gift”   Happy New Year Rob!

  • Darryl, you’ve written a very eloquent piece on lifelong learning. Here here!

  • alisongarwoodjones   Thank you, Alison and thank you for sharing! Have a wonderful #digitaledu 2016!

  • I’m finally making it over here….but I completely agree. In fact, one very important trait we look for in people we hire is curiosity and the natural desire to be a lifelong learner. It’s so important in our profession…not to mention life in general. I think your life is fuller if you are constantly curious, asking why, how, what, where….

    Great post to start the new year off!

  • LauraPetrolino  Thank you, Laura! Happy New Year ! 🙂

  • Digital_DRK Happy New Year, Darryl!

  • Completely agree, Darryl, and thank you for the h/t! I’ve met so many wonderful people over here at SS and so many other places too. There’s nothing like learning together. Here’s to much continued learning in 2016!

  • Shonali  Thank you,  Shonali !   Cheers to a lucrative leap-year of learning!

  • I really enjoyed this post Digital_DRK and appreciate the shout-out. Those are all good tips for all of us to stay curious and learn new things. We’re in a world where the student/instructor role keeps shifting – and I definitely think that analogy applies here :).

  • Digital_DRK

    martinwaxman Thank you, Martin! 🙂

  • Digital_DRK

    mcorsano Thank you Michelle!! 🙂