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Learning Starts With Attitude


As you must know by now ignorance is not an option in IT. Lifelong learning is part and parcel of the IT industry. Today, there is greater awareness that continuous and periodic learning is a key requirement for career success. But why do many still miss the mark? Why do some learn efficiently while others just seem to burn money? How can you approach the learning process so that you end up mastering the technology rather than giving up in frustration?
With regard to learning as a career tool, attitude is what makes the difference. The difference between underachievement and accomplishment is attitude.
Here then are suggestions on the right mindset for effective learning.

1. Don’t Limit Your Learning Opportunities
Explore all learning opportunities. Learn to expand your horizons. Popular and conventional tools utilized for staying up to date include: books, publications, work experience, instructor-led training and Computer Training software. While these tools have proven effective for many, it isn’t wise to limit learning to them alone. In the digital age, information and learning opportunities abound for individuals interested in IT. You can keep abreast of the latest industry news and tech advancements in your area of interest. Through seminars, white papers, and of course the Web. The Internet can be used for education and continuous self-development, through e-mail newsletters and sites with IT content.
While it is important to consider what works for you, don’t limit your learning opportunities by being rigid. There is no formula of what constitutes a good learning experience. Dogmatism doesn’t flow with learning. Statements like “instructor-led training is the only way you can learn”, “MCSE is the best IT certification” or “learning without practicals is useless” have no place in IT learning.
Always be flexible in your approach and be open to new avenues. For example, while experience is an acknowledged source of knowledge, you need to be wary of depending solely on experience in IT. What is the quality of experience? Experience limits you to what you do on a regular basis. Experience may also lead to functioning but inadequate solutions. Books and instructor led training options too have their own limitations. Sometimes the limitation might be due to the opportunities and resources at your disposal. You definitely need to be flexible, as there are no perfect learning options.

2. Resourcefulness
Resourcefulness is critical for expanding your learning opportunities. When your credible sources and learning options don’t seem to have knowledge or information you need, you have to know how to dig deep. You may not have the answers, but resourcefulness means knowing where to find knowledge. It is unproductive to be permanently dependent on “experts” for all your information and learning needs. What if the experts are “unavailable” or simply too busy? This is definitely not to say that it is wrong to ask people questions, but when it gets to the point of lack of initiative or effort, it becomes a source of concern.
Resourcefulness requires mental effort on your part, so you have to avoid the copycat mentality. Resourcefulness is not the art of copying. You can examine how others learn and get results, but it will be a mistake to slavishly copy another person’s learning technique or solutions. Copy mindlessly and you miss out on critical knowledge. When you dig deep and do the research yourself, you will find that you learn more that way. Always develop your ability to find knowledge.

3. Willingness to learn
You know all the learning tools and options that work for you. But the presence of all these tools is not enough. As a professional you must have the ability and desire to update yourself on a continuous basis. You absolutely must be willing to learn and you must love learning. This is the problem with cramming. If you want real growth you can’t afford to confuse or equate cramming with learning. Many see cramming as a shortcut that bypasses the learning process. The focus is on memorization, not learning. There is a world of difference.
This is the same attitude of those who believe they can “buy” careers and certification simply by paying for expensive training and certification programs. Learning is not only about time spent and money. You’ve paid for training, but do you make the effort to read your manuals?
Your instructors are world-class, but do you make the effort to practice? Why buy those best-selling books when you won’t visit the pages? Without effort the train is moving nowhere.
Do you see learning as a burden, requirement or pleasure? Just as nobody can learn for you, nobody should have to force you to learn. When you are eager to learn, it is easy to make learning a habit. It is easy to be motivated. You can motivate yourself to provide the energy, time, and focus necessary to acquire new knowledge and concepts.
People do their best when they are doing things that they enjoy doing. If you simply don’t enjoy learning, forget it.

4. Learning is for career growth
Why do you learn? How do you determine if your learning effort is worthwhile? A large number go through the learning process in IT for immediate benefit. For these individuals, learning is only useful for immediate job openings, fat salaries, “get-rich-quick” schemes, job requirements, job promotion, etc.
Unrealistic expectations are some of the greatest barriers to effective learning. Many unwisely, don’t invest in useful learning opportunities if they fail to see prospects of immediate payback. Instead they prefer to build, “castles in the air” based on advertising gimmicks and overblown hype. Don’t focus on distractions that have no substance. Focusing on distractions leads to wrong, harmful choices. Learn because you will need that knowledge in future. Learn because it will help you grow your career.
The real goal is not to learn a technology; it's to learn how to apply a technology to solve problems, to create, to provide solutions, to understand concepts, to enhance your career growth.
The real value of knowledge is its ability to grow you and your career. It’s about developing yourself. Feed your brain and remove all limits. Learning frees you from the chains of subjective opinions and half-baked knowledge. Learning moves you from being a consumer to being an IT creator, to being a driver of IT developments. It is not simply about immediate job description benefits.
If you have the desire to learn, you should be focused, know why and have goals in mind.

5. Learning is your Responsibility
You are in charge of your career. Your training school, your instructors and colleagues can only give guides and assistance, as Abraham Lincoln once said, “You have to do your own growing no matter how tall your grandfather was.” Since your expertise is your ticket to success, your education and increasing your knowledge is your responsibility.
Furthermore, even if others have paid for you in the past, or if they are still paying, don't expect them to continue to pay for ALL your education. This may take you out of your comfort zone, but it is better than depending on others to control your future.
Take input from your organization, colleagues, instructors, training schools, mentors and career advisors. But the responsibility is still yours. When all learning decisions are not in your hands, it’s easy to get complacent. And where learning is an issue, complacency is not in your interest. You must know what you want to learn and determine how to learn. Your learning decisions should be uniquely yours.

I hope this article has shown that while learning technology is essential to remain relevant and useful, you still need the right attitude to stay on track and derive real benefit. 

All the best in your IT Career,

Jide Awe

Jide Awe is the Founder of

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