Learn from champions on how to be one

In sports, it is common for amateurs and lesser-accomplished professionals to observe the pros at practice and play. They get inspired to improve their game. If you take your career seriously you too can adopt this practice.

Self-directed learning is the behavior of a committed professional. Such learning happens when you take accountability for self-development. “Shadow learning” is an important component of self-directed learning. You take a see-and-learn approach, by observing persons you see as role models for specific skills. For example, it could be a person very high up in your company who effortlessly uses the power of words while talking. It could be a colleague who is exceptionally good at making presentations. Also, you can use shadow learning not only to learn a new skill but to take an existing skill to a higher level.

Tips for you:
1. Identify the skill in a person that you would like to emulate.
2. Pay attention to the situations and settings in which the person demonstrates the skill.
3. Make notes on your observations. If possible, try to meet the role model to develop a better understanding of the skill.
4. Rehearse the skill/ behavior, when possible.
5. Emulate the skill or behavior in settings that are appropriate. Learn to be patient with the discomfort that may come in the beginning, especially if you are on to something new.

Sometimes, you could pick a role model who is a public figure who frequently appears on media. Pick just two or three areas at a time. Apply yourself consistently and upgrade your skills inventory.

– By Sundar Parthasarathy for Zeus

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