They say knowledge is power. Think about it: Your current mentors and the senior leaders you regularly interact with at work likely have a vast knowledge of your company’s products and services and their field of work, and they might even keep up to date with general industry news.
The world’s most successful people find ways to incorporate learning into their day-to-day work.
The ability to acquire knowledge effectively is a skill in itself. It’s the key to opening doors that would otherwise be locked and often controls access to opportunity and advancement in the workplace.
Let’s discuss knowledge acquisition, why it’s important, and how you can use your knowledge base to seek new opportunities in your personal and professional life.
- Why is gaining new knowledge important?
- Tips to consider when learning
- 8 unique ways to gain new knowledge
Why is gaining new knowledge important?
Knowledge is important for a variety of reasons! Gaining new knowledge allows us to think more deeply about issues from many different perspectives, and it sharpens skills like reasoning and problem-solving. When we’re equipped with the soft skills needed to navigate challenging situations, we can function more smoothly and effectively in our lives. At work, this can translate directly to leadership opportunities.
Keep a detailed record of new knowledge learned
Keep a detailed record of new knowledge learned in meetings by taking collaborative meeting notes that keep your team productive and accountable with Fellow!
Tips to consider when learning
- Factor in how much time you have
- Factor in how much time it will take
- Be aware of biases
- Schedule time to learn
- Set attainable goals
- Learn from your mistakes
1Factor in how much time you have
It takes around 10,000 hours to become an expert on one topic. With that being said, you need to be realistic! Unless you spend every waking moment in pursuit of knowledge, there’s no way you’ll be an expert knitter, piano player, and software engineer by the end of the next quarter. Think about how much time you’re actually willing to dedicate to one specific area of interest before deciding it’s what you want to focus on!
2Factor in how much time it will take
Let’s say you’re set on becoming the best graphic designer your company has ever seen. To do so, you plan to study all the visual design techniques that the world’s greatest artists use, and to produce 10 new design samples this month. Once you’ve set some goals, make a timeline for yourself and adjust it as needed along the way.
3Be aware of biases
When gathering knowledge, be sure that you’re getting your information from reputable sources. For example, if you’re aiming to learn more about a historical event and are doing so by reading news articles, look for unbiased sources, timely facts, photos, and videos, and look to see if multiple, credible, established media outlets are reporting the same information.
4Schedule time to learn
Everyone is guilty of occasionally stating that they want to do or learn something, but not taking the necessary strides to turn their ideas into action. If you want to learn something new, schedule time into your calendar as you would for any other task or goal.
5Set attainable goals
Use your favourite goal-setting methodology like objectives and key results (OKRs) to transform your lofty goals into actionable results. Ensure that the objectives you set for yourself are measurable and realistic to achieve within the amount of time you’ve given yourself—in other words, make sure they’re SMART goals. Don’t forget to celebrate milestones, too!
6Learn from your mistakes
Perhaps when you embarked on your journey to learn about world capitals or presidential pets, you thought you would be able to acquire a vast amount of information by reading alone. Don’t be afraid to change your plan if you notice it’s not working as you thought it would. Change your course of action so you continue to grow and don’t get discouraged along the way.
8 unique ways to gain new knowledge
- Explore social media
- Read newsletters
- Listen to podcasts
- Leverage microlearning
- Socialize with experts
- Explain a concept to others
- Read different content
- Ask good questions
1Explore social media
If you currently spend time on social media, you probably know how many knowledgeable individuals use these platforms to share knowledge. Explore online communities that will help you learn about your chosen topic. Whether by watching TikToks on leadership, reading a Reddit thread on data science, or joining a Facebook group to learn more about carpentry, there is plenty to discover. If the topic you want to become more knowledgeable about pertains to your field of work, start by asking your colleagues what social media platforms they’ve used in the past. When in doubt, a quick Google search should lead you to a variety of virtual groups that you can explore.
Subscribing to newsletters is a great way to stay on top of new and relevant information in your field of interest. It’s simple: When you sign up for a great newsletter, a variety of curated content is delivered directly to you. Newsletters allow you to spend more time learning and less time searching. For example, If you want to hone your writing skills, there are many popular email newsletters with great tips, resources, and examples. If you’re interested in management, productivity, and running great meetings, you can subscribe to Fellow’s Supermanagers TLDR newsletter.
3Listen to podcasts
Podcasts are an excellent way to digest a lot of information in one fast-paced and accessible format. Podcasts are often also as entertaining as they are educational. We can get the latest information from experts in our fields of interest and take that information wherever we go. The best part is that you can multitask while you listen! Make your commute, meal prep sessions, or laundry folding endeavours more productive by playing a podcast in the background. If you’re looking for inspiration, our Supermanagers podcast features interviews with leaders from all walks of life who tease out the habits, thought patterns, and experiences that have made them extraordinary.
Microlearning is a strategy that breaks complex topics down into smaller, bite-sized pieces to be delivered for learners to study at their convenience. In this era of busy lives and short attention spans, microlearning is an excellent model for those looking to expand their knowledge at a time and place that suits their schedule. Instead of feeling overwhelmed, try to reduce your own cognitive overload by learning chunked content that is easy to absorb and recall.
5Socialize with experts
Put yourself out there and go chat with the best of the best! There are likely many experts in the field you’re learning about who will be more than willing to bestow some of their knowledge. If you don’t know anyone, try networking on LinkedIn or attending an in-person or virtual conference. You can ask questions like: What steps would you recommend someone new to the field take to acquire new skills and knowledge? What resources should I invest in if I want to become better at this skill? Jot down questions before each conversation, so you feel prepared and confident.
6Explain a concept to others
Did you know that the brain needs to reproduce information to improve memory? You will learn faster and retain more if you repeat yourself often. If you fully understand a topic, you should feel comfortable explaining it to your peers. The next time you’re with a colleague, friend, or family member and they ask how you’re doing, tell them all about the cool new topic you’re learning about. Better yet, if you’re ever with a subject matter expert, ask if you can explain a recently learned concept to them, and ask for some feedback.
7Read different content
Reading quality literature—books, articles, blogs—is the essential way to learn about anything. Reading naturally enriches our vocabulary and activates cognitive functions like attention, concentration, comprehension, and analysis. When you’re trying to acquire knowledge about a new topic, ensure you’re reading everyday and aim to always have materials on hand. Additionally, search for reading materials other than books that you can rely on like articles, interviews, case studies, and reports from reputable sources.
8Ask good questions
Don’t feel awkward the next time you want to pick another person’s brain. Every person who possesses knowledge is more than willing to communicate what they know to any serious and sincere person who’s interested in learning more. When you find yourself seated next to an expert in a field that interests you, be humble, admit that you don’t have all the answers, and ask thoughtful questions. Struggling to find the right words? Check out our blog post on what questions you can ask to get great answers today.
Knowledge can open the door to opportunity, achievement, success, and even wealth! If you prioritize learning everyday, you’ll be miles ahead of the rest. Get started by selecting a topic or a field of study that you want to learn about and start consuming information in a variety of mediums. You’ll discover what works for you in no time, and will soon have others seeking out your subject matter expertise!